'Brazen and prolific': Professional shoplifter carried out thefts at Boots, B&M, Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's stores in Leeds to fund her £100-a-day drug addiction

A 'brazen' shoplifter stole more than £7,000 worth of goods during 14 raids at high street stores across Leeds to fund a £100-a-day addiction to heroin and crack cocaine.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 11:45 am

Claire Kirk was caught on camera on multiple occasions as she stripped shelves of products during the year-long spree of offending.

The 39-year-old mum managed to steal more than £3,000 worth of items on a single occasion from a Boots store.

Kirk, of Ramshead Grove, Seacroft, appeared before Leeds Crown Court where she pleaded guilty to 14 offences of theft and four offences of possession of a class C drug.

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Shoplifter Claire Kirk stole £3,100 worth of products in a day from the Boots store at Thorpe Park.

The offences, carried out between March 2020 and June 2021, were outlined at Leeds Crown Court by the prosecutor, James Houlding.

Those offences were:

March 20, 2020. Boots, Guiseley Retail Park. Kirk stole £489 worth of cosmetics, toothbrushes and nose hair trimmers. She was later identified from CCTV footage

July 31, 2020. Sainsbury's, Bradford Road, Ilkley. The defendant entered the health and beauty aisle and filled a bag with products including Sudafed, Imodium and Fixodent worth £250 before leaving without paying.

October 7, 2020. Boots, Savins Mills Way, Kirkstall. Kirk stole shaving products, hair dye and eye drops worth £659 before leaving. She then went next door to the B&M store and filled a shopping bag with £158 worth of beauty products. The goods were recovered after she was stopped by a security guard as she tried to leave.

December 6, 2020. Co-op, High Street, Garforth. Kirk stole hair straighteners, toothbrushes, toys and food worth £181.

December 22, 2020. Sainsbury's, Bradford Road, Ilkley. Staff noticed a large amount of stock missing from shelves. They viewed CCTV footage which showed Kirk taking items then leaving. Later the same day she returned to the store and stole steak and oral care products worth £342.

December 30, 2020. Sainsbury's, Bradford Road, Ilkley. Kirk helped herself to food from the bakery and health products worth £336. She was then seen on on camera "squeezing" through a blocked area in order to leave the premises.

January 29, 2021. Boots, Horsefair Centre, Wetherby. Razor blades and beauty products worth £215 were stolen.

January 31, 2021. Kirk was arrested and held in custody at Elland Road police station. She was searched and two Kinder Eggs were found in her bra which contained four different types of class C drugs. She continued to commit thefts after she was released.

February 8, 2021 Sainsbury's, Colton. Kirk stole three bottles of whisky, a tray of miniature whiskies, an Amazon Echo speaker, razor blades and toothbrushes. She left the store and drove off in a Vauxhall Corsa but returned and stole a games console and vodka.

February 21, 2021. Boots and M&S, The Springs, Thorpe Park. Kirk stole beauty products and bio oils worth £410 from Boots before stealing eight bottles of gin from M&S

March 22, Boots, The Springs, Thorpe Park. Kirk stole 550 razor blades.

June 29, Boots, The Springs, Thorpe Park. Kirk targeted the store twice in the same day and stole products worth £3,100 in total.

Kirk was arrested at her home where police found large quantities of medicines and healthcare products in the property.

When interviewed she said she stole to fund her £100-a-day addiction to heroin and crack cocaine.

The total value of the offending was worth £7,303.

Mr Holding said Boots staff had described Kirk's offending as "a big problem, due to her brazen and prolific approach to shoplifting."

The court heard Kirk has 43 convictions for theft offences dating back to 2000.

Probation officer Kerrie Wilson told the court that Kirk had been addicted to drugs since the age of 15.

She managed to overcome the addiction for many years after having children.

The officer then returned to using drugs and committing crime to fund the addiction "due to the pressures of being a single mum."

Ms Wilson added: "It is quite clear that these offences are financially motivated and are to fund her long-standing addiction to heroin and crack cocaine."

James Littlehales, mitigating, urged Recorder Bryan Cox QC to impose a punishment which would enable her to get help to address her addiction in order to prevent Kirk reoffending.

Recorder Cox said: "This was prolific shoplifting. It is about as bad as it gets, quite frankly.

"You have come very close to serving a substantial sentence of imprisonment.

"I am just persuaded that there is enough of a reasonable prospect that you will take advantage of the opportunity that I am going to give you."

Kirk was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She must attend a drug rehabilitation requirement for two years and complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.