Stealing from supermarket was ‘easy’

A WOMAN who found it ‘‘easy’’ to walk out of a Harrogate supermarket with a trolley full of food repeated the exercise twice more, the town’s magistrates heard on Tuesday. But she was arrested on the third occasion and faced six charges.

Tracey Ann Lawson pleaded guilty to three counts of theft from Asda and the prosecution dropped three other offences alleging going into the store three times equipped for theft by carrying an old till receipt to deceive staff into thinking she had paid for shopping.

The court heard the three theft offences had occurred on successive Tuesday beginning on July 19 and prosecutor Kathryn Reeve said all had come to light when she was seen and followed by security staff as she left on August 2.

Miss Reeve said none of the goods had been recovered from the first two thefts but on the third occasion there had been £125.55 worth of food in 44-year-old Lawson’s trolley.

In mitigation Andrew Tinning said Lawson, of Slingsby Crescent, Harrogate, had gone to Asda on July 19 to do her normal weekly shop for her and her partner.

She had filled a trolley before realising she had left her money in her car.

Mr Tinning said Lawson had gone to the customer service desk to ask if she could leave the trolley there until she had collected cash from her car. There had been a queue at the desk and she had not waited.

She had intended to leave the trolley at the exit but when she was not challenged she got into her car and drove off.

When she realised what she had done made things a lot easier in the household and enabled other bills to be paid at a time when money was tight Lawson - regrettably and having seen how easy it was - repeated the exercise the following week and the week after.

But on the third occasion security staff had been ‘‘a bit wiser and a bit more sharp-eyed’’ and now she found herself in court for the first time in more than 30 years.

Mr Tinning said Lawson, who had been left unable to work after a stroke, and whose partner was also on benefits after an injury at his job, had found her first theft ‘‘just too good an opportunity to miss.’’

But now she was being pursued by Asda for civil recovery for the goods taken and time spent by the company’s staff on the case.

Court chairman Eric Fell told Lawson her repeated activities had alerted store staff and that had been her downfall.

He adjourned sentence until September 27, called for probation reports to be prepared and banned Lawson from Harrogate’s Asda in the meantime.