A thief who targeted women’s handbags in bars and stores in Leeds has been jailed and banned from entering the city centre.
Richard Bihari, 29, was jailed for 36 weeks over the offending which took place over a six month period between October last year and April this year.
Leeds Crown Court Bihari took a handbag belonging to a 62-year-old woman after she put it on the back of her chair in the Picture House, in the Merrion Centre.
Bihari also stole a bag containing £180 worth of property from a trolley as the victim was shopping at Asda in Killingbeck.
Other offences included him stealing a bag belonging to a student at Revolution Bar, Cookridge Street, a bag containing £350 of goods in the White Swan pub and a handbag belonging to a 60-year-old woman in a cafe at the Trinity Centre.
Bihari, of Conway View, Harehills, was arrested after being recognised from CCTV footage.
He pleaded guilty to five offences of theft. Bihari has five previous convictions for nine sets of offences. Stuart Field, mitigating, said Bihari moved to the UK from the Czech Republic with the hope of making a better life for himself.
Mr Field said the father of two became involved with people who had introduced him to drugs and he had built up debts with them. He added that the offences were committed to pay the debts and to continue to fund his drug habit.
Bihari was made the subject of criminal behaviour order banning him from the city centre for three years.
Insp Richard Clarke, who heads the City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Bihari is a prolific thief who targeted women in the city centre to steal their handbags, purses and phones.
“His offending has affected a large number of victims who have not only lost items of value but also personal information and photographs.
“He was arrested and charged as a result of a comprehensive investigation by officers from the City NPT who have worked closely with Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team to secure a Criminal Behaviour Order that bans him from the city centre for three years.
“This case clearly illustrates how the police and council are working together to tackle those whose behaviour has an ongoing detrimental impact on the lives of people in the city.
“We continue to work closely with businesses, licensees, and doorstaff to prevent these type of offences and catch those responsible.
“We hope this latest conviction will remind people to take care of their valuables as unfortunately there are professional thieves targeting the city centre specifically to steal from handbags left on the floor or hung on the back of chairs.”