Judge demands to know how shoplifter escaped with caution after giving false name

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:45 15 August 2019

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A judge has asked for a full explanation as to how a prolific shoplifter could escape with a caution after giving a false name when caught stealing in Norwich.

Chloe Briars, 21, was caught red-handed by staff in TKMaxx stealing £200 worth of perfume on March 15, this year, but Briars, who has 22 convictions for 85 offences, gave police a false name of someone with no previous convictions, so she was let-off with a caution, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said it later emerged the officer realised the error so she was re-arrested but in the meantime she committed a further string of thefts from shops.

He said if her identity had been checked and her fingerprints taken at the time, police would have discovered she had a number of previous convictions for shop theft and would never have been let off with a caution.

After hearing the details, Judge Katharine Moore said: "This is such a serious matter. It ought to be looked at."

She asked the prosecution to contact Norfolk police for an explanation so as to make sure it did not happen again.

Briars, of Desmond Drive, Old Catton, admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice and also admitted 20 thefts from shops involving more than £5000 worth of items. The thefts took place from March until June 1, this year when she was arrested.

Andrew Oliver, for Briars said she was stealing to fund a drug habit and gave a false name on the spur of the moment: "She was hoping the police officer would fall for it and rather surprisingly he did."

He said no one was arrested or charged as a result of the false name she gave.

He said she now wanted to break the cycle and get free of drugs: "She wants to turn her life around."

Jailing her for 32 weeks, Judge Moore said Briars was a "prolific" shoplifter.

She said it was "quite remarkable" the officer had not checked her identity and said her action undermined the administration of criminal justice.

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