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99th offence puts serial theif in jail

10:00 18 June 2014

Alan Webber

Alan Webber

Archant

A serial shoplifter has been jailed after clocking up his 99th offence.

Alan Webber was already on a suspended sentence for previous thefts when he returned to heroin use and stole from shops in Sidmouth, Exeter and East Devon.

He was caught eleven times in the space of 38 days stealing food, household goods and even high value goods including a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Webber had tried to turn his life around by getting a job and starting drug rehabilitation but dropped out of his programme and started stealing to pay off old debts.

He has a history of petty offending to fund his drug habit and his list of previous offences runs to 37 pages.

Webber, aged 35, of Everest Drive, Seaton, admitted two thefts and asked for nine others to be considered. He also admitted breaking a suspended sentence imposed in February and a drug rehabilitation order.

He was jailed for a total of 30 months by Judge Graham Cottle, who told him: “You have a very, very long history of offending and it was not long before you started taking drugs again and these offences took place. Some offences involved high value property and there is no alternative to custody. I hope you take advantage of the services available in prison to tackle your drug problems.”

Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, said Webber was made subject of a suspended sentence and drug rehabilitation order in February for stealing more than £5,000 from shops in a long series of thefts.

He started missing appointments with drug workers and providing positive tests and on April 4 was arrested for shoplifting at the Co-op in Sidmouth.

He was bailed but continued to skip meetings with probation and drugs workers and was arrested again and held in custody after being caught stealing from the Co-op in Exeter on May 12.

He later admitted committing the nine other shoplifting offences in the time in between the two arrests.

Mr Bowen said Webber had 97 convictions before admitting the latest two thefts.

Mr Nick Bradley, defending, said Webber had made a very good start to his work with the drugs service and is still determined to give up crime so he can be a father to his young son who is now four months old.

He said Webber found himself a job as a mechanic and had been doing well until his old life caught up with him.

He said: “He owed £2,000 for drugs in a debt accumulated before his last sentence. He had no money and he resorted to shoplifting items of value. He has finally settled the debt by signing over his car.”

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