Seasoned shoplifting gang foiled stealing £1,500 designer coats in Harrogate

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

Five seasoned shoplifters reckoned they had outsmarted the law when they walked out of an upmarket clothes shop with more than £1,500 of designer coats.

The gang of thieves travelled to Harrogate from Manchester with rucksacks lined with foil to avoid security detection.

They went into Blacks outdoor-pursuits shop in Station Parade and picked out a number of expensive coats, York Crown Court heard.

They went into the changing rooms supposedly to try on the garments, but came out of the dressing area with “considerably less” coats than they had gone in with, said prosecuting barrister Kirsten Mercer.

They managed to evade security on the way out and left the store with nine new Berghaus and North Face jackets stuffed inside the bags, before heading off in a car.

But they didn’t get out of the borough as North Yorkshire police stopped the Vauxhall Corsa on Wetherby Road, Knaresborough, half an hour later.

Officers searched the vehicle and found the outdoor-pursuit coats - worth £1,550 - inside the boot.

Dayle Blinkhorn, 28, Liam O’Neill, 45, Steven Tahir, 41, and Gareth Tailby, 28, were each charged with theft. A fifth man was arrested but is still at large.

The four defendants eventually pleaded guilty to theft and appeared for sentence on Friday.

Prosecutor Ms Mercer said police stopped the getaway vehicle at about 4pm on October 31 last year. A scan of the national database showed that it had no current owner or insurance.

The court heard that Tahir, of Augustine Webster Close, Harpurhey, had 46 previous convictions for 66 offences, the majority of them for theft.

O’Neill, of Lewis Avenue, Harpurhey, had 39 previous convictions for 68 offences, the majority for theft but also 13 for fraud.

Blinkhorn, who was the driver of the Corsa, had 23 previous convictions for offences including shoplifting, battery and driving matters.

Tailby, lately of Dunluce Street, Liverpool, had 67 previous convictions for 132 offences including 83 thefts.

Judge David Batty QC told the defendants: “It’s perfectly obvious that you four, and another who is not before the courts, were acting as a professional shoplifting team, coming up mob-handed from Manchester, targeting retail premises in Harrogate.”

Tailby, Blinkorn and Tahir were each given 15-month suspended jail sentences with 200 hours’ unpaid work. O’Neill was given a 12-month suspended jail term with the same number of unpaid work hours.

Each defendant was made to pay a statutory surcharge but no costs.