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From garden shed to prison cell: Prolific shoplifter jailed for 34 months

Stephen Wood, a notorious shoplifter who wreaked havoc in various businesses throughout East Sussex, has been imprisoned.

The 33-year-old, who doesn’t have a permanent address, received a 10-month prison sentence on Tuesday 23 May for a total of 21 shoplifting incidents. His conviction led to the activation of a previously suspended sentence, extending his total jail term to 34 months.

Wood had been identified as the culprit behind numerous thefts in the district, and efforts were underway to apprehend him. A public plea was made for information regarding his location, which led to a tip-off from a local resident who discovered him hiding in their garden shed.

Wood was promptly arrested and slapped with 21 charges of theft. Among the list of crimes were several thefts from Tesco located on North Street, Hailsham, and Co-op branches in Heathfield, Peacehaven, Bexhill, Horsebridge, Seaford, and Newhaven.

His stolen loot comprised various items, from hoovers and a television to boxes of hair straighteners and electric razors. Alcohol, cigarettes, toys, and bedding were also among the items lifted. Over the course of February, March, and April 2023, Wood managed to steal nearly £5,000 worth of merchandise.

Wood pleaded guilty to all the offences and received his sentence at Lewes Crown Court.

Detective Sergeant Richard Breeze, of Eastbourne CID, said: “Stephen Wood caused significant harm to business across our district and we are pleased to see the persistent nature of his offending reflected in this sentence.

“I’d like to thank staff at the businesses affected for reporting the incidents to us and for their continued support bringing the case to court, and the member of the public who reported Wood’s whereabouts that enabled our officers to bring him into custody.

“We will continue working closely with partners in our community to prevent business crime and bring those responsible for causing harm to justice.”

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