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Swanscombe prolific criminal Sarah Ripley jailed for Co-op and Sainsbury's thefts

A petty thief has committed her 200th offence in 22 years.

Sarah Ripley targeted mainly Co-op stores in Dartford swiping more than £2,200 worth of food, wine and cosmetics.

Sarah Ripley, 37 carried out 22 shoplifting offences last year
Sarah Ripley, 37 carried out 22 shoplifting offences last year

The 37-year-old, who carried out 22 shoplifting trips in 2018-19, pleaded with the judge not to jail her because she would lose her council accommodation.

But Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said Ripley, from Craylands Square, Swanscombe, should be jailed for 18 months.

Prosecutor Mary Jacobson told Maidstone Crown Court how 10 of the thefts took place between February and November last year, some of them committed with an accomplice who received a community-based penalty.

She said: "There were specific shops targeted, Sainsbury's at Sevenoaks was targeted twice; Sainsbury's at Borough Green five times; the Co-op at Swanscombe and Lloyds Pharmacy at Dartford.''

The prosecutor said Ripley, who was caught on CCTV, took items, like meat, coffee and household items valued between £31 and £150 from the stores and £700 in cosmetics from Lloyds

She was arrested and interviewed but denied it was her in the videos and was later bailed.

The court heard how she then carried out what the prosecutor dubbed ''The Spring Offences'' between March and May 2019.

Ms Jacobson said Ripley targeted Co-op branches on 10 occasions - mainly three stores in Swanscombe, as well as Hawley Road and Lane End in Dartford.

The court heard Riley pocketed items, including alcohol, valued between £10 and £142 - netting her £541.60 and was again caught on CCTV.

The prosecutor added that between April and June this year she went to three Co-op stores at New Ash Green and Horton Kirby, taking items totalling £594.

John Fitzgerald, defending, asked the judge to take a "more constructive'' course in sentencing rather than jailing her immediately.

But Judge Griffith-Jones retorted: ''Attempts have been made to help her until the cows come home.''

He added: "While on remand in prison she appears to be doing well... and I am thinking she should be allowed to continue her progress."

Mr Fitzgerald said when she is released she would have nowhere to live "which is crucial for anybody struggling with drug addiction... they need accommodation, stability and support".

The judge retorted: "I can't give her accommodation!"

Mr Fitzgerald said Ripley was about to lose her Dartford council accommodation this week unless she was freed.

But the judge told Ripley: "This is a pattern of a prolific shoplifter. You have been before the court on 72 previous occasions for 186 previous offences.

''I note you have a history of anxiety problems and substance misuse. You have applied yourself diligently and constructively while on remand but these offences demand an immediate jail sentence. Nothing less will do.

"The public interest demands that you be given the opportunity to continue your progress inside prison...eight weeks on remand does not give me confidence that you will now prosper," he added.

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