Theft charge teen's bail is refused... to protect shops
An alleged professional teenage shoplifter has been refused bail to protect storekeepers in Belfast, a judge ruled.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified, steals to order in return for cash to fund his drug habit, police claimed.
He appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday, charged with committing 14 offences in a four-month crime spree.
The youth allegedly stole tanning products, quantities of meat, cheese, laundry detergent, fabric softener and deodorant from convenience stores, chemists and a service station in the city. His 12 alleged thefts, between April 7 and July 22, involve goods with a total value of £956.
Standing outside the dock, the teenager spoke only to confirm he understood the charges. Beside him his mother wept as the alleged offences were read out.
An investigating police officer strongly opposed bail being granted to the accused.
"He would be described as a professional shoplifter," she claimed, and contended that the shoplifting had inflicted considerable loss on local businesses.
Denying bail, District Judge Liam McNally held that it was one of the rare cases where a defendant under 18 should be kept in custody.
"I'm quite satisfied I would be failing in my duty (if I released you)," he told the youth.
"The shopkeepers in this town would be at risk of losing further property."
The accused was remanded into the juvenile justice centre to appear again next week.