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James How: Serial shoplifter who targeted Bishop’s Stortford jailed for 31 weeks

A serial shoplifter was jailed for almost eight months after breaching suspended prison sentences imposed for stealing from stores in Bishop’s Stortford.

James How, 39, of Scott Avenue, Stanstead Abbotts, appeared at Hatfield Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday February 7, the day after he stole several bottles of wine from Marks and Spencer in Hertford.

He was given consecutive 18-week and 12-week prison terms for breaching two suspended sentence orders, plus a week for the M&S theft, taking the total to 31 weeks in jail.

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The suspended sentences related to seven thefts from shops in Bishop’s Stortford and Ware in November and December. In Stortford he stole alcohol worth £162.50 from Waitrose on November 19, alcohol of an unknown value from Sainsbury’s in Jackson Square and £162.50 of cosmetics from Boots, both on November 22, and alcohol worth £74.20 from Sainsbury’s at Thorley Park on December 11.

In October, How was fined £160 for stealing alcohol from Sainsbury’s in Jackson Square. An eyewitness reported that a dozen Hertfordshire Constabulary officers in four vehicles descended on the store to apprehend him after police were called at around 2.50pm on Monday October 16. When he appeared at Hatfield Magistrates’ Court two days later (Wednesday October 18) he was also charged with theft from Savers in South Street on August 24 and was ordered to pay £88.85 compensation in relation to that offence.

Sgt David Miller said: “Reducing shoplifting is a current focus for the local policing team. I hope this sends a message both to criminals and businesses that we will not tolerate shoplifting and will do everything we can to get offenders before the courts.”

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