£11,000 theft by man who hid under Merry Hill shopping centre stall

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A thief who hid in Merry Hill shopping centre and then crept out to steal £11,000 worth of designer watches has been jailed for 26 months.

Terry Payne committed the offence on July 13 when he was caught on CCTV helping himself to the items from Watch Hut. Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Payne went into

Merry Hill at 8pm and hid under a stall in the centre and was covered by a cloth. He then came out of his hiding place in the early hours and broke into the kiosk and made off with designer watches.

Mr Edward Soulsby, prosecuting, said the 26-year-old then left the shopping centre via a fire exit. Five days later he was spotted in Merry Hill again and was arrested by officers. Mr Soulsby told the court that it wasn't the only time that Payne had struck at the shopping centre as, on the same day he stole the watches, he had grabbed £700 worth of Ray-Ban sunglasses from Boots.

The thief had also stolen tools worth £900 from a van in Brierley Hill and had stolen a digital camera from Asda in the town.

Mr Jas Mann, defending, said Payne had a drug problem he was attempting to overcome. He said: "He does want to be clear of drugs when he's out of custody. He has a grandmother who has properties out of the area where he's able to move away if necessary. He's in contact with his brother who runs a scaffolding company and he may offer him work. When he comes out of custody he needs a support network."

Payne, of Foxdale Drive, Brierley Hill, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft charges.

He also asked for six further offences to be taken into consideration.

Recorder Nicholas Cartwright sentenced Payne to 26 months in prison.

He said as he passed sentence: "At the age of 26 you have committed 61 offences, mostly for burglary and theft. Community orders have been tried, and they haven't worked. You were subject to a community order when you committed these offence"

Referring to his raid at the Merry Hill centre, Mr Cartwright added: "This was a premeditated excursion for the sole purpose to steal, for you to sell items to fuel your drug habit."

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