Published: 10:58, 17 October 2019
| Updated: 10:58, 17 October 2019
A sweet-toothed thief, who stole chocolate and raided church collection tins to raise cash to buy dope, has promised a judge he will continue to fight his drugs habit.
Daniel Arnold, 34, walked into stores in Chatham and stuffed bags full of sweets before brushing aside people who stood in his way.
He admitted eight theft offences and four burglaries to feed his addiction but Judge Adele Williams adjourned sentence to see if he could be offered an alternative to jail.
But a report ruled he wasn't suitable for a residential drugs treatment course because he was still taking methadone.
Judge Williams told him he would be jailed for a total of 44 months but urged him to continue his battle to beat his addiction.
"If you are going to beat your problem then nobody else but you can do it."
Arnold, of Waghorn Street, Chatham, replied: "I will try my hardest."
Maidstone Crown Court heard how he had also raided two churches in Gillingham and Chatham to get cash to buy drugs.
Prosecutor Mary Jacobson told the court how from May 16 to July 2 Arnold and his gang carried out eight theft offences.
Arnold also committed four burglaries and two assaults on staff who were trying to stop them escaping. He admitted all the charges.
Ms Jacobson said the first began on May 16 at a service station when Arnold walked out without paying carrying a basket with £70 worth of goods.
Just 15 days later he went in a Co-op Store in Wainscott, selected items, briefly joining the check-out queue before running out of the store.
The prosecutor added the same night he burgled the Life Connection Church in Derwent Way, Gillingham and stole £150 in donations.
On June 2, a security officer at a store in Gillingham Road, Gillingham noticed £200 worth of chocolates had vanished from a display and CCTV later revealed Arnold with his thieving pals had been pictured packing bags from the shelf before leaving.
The next day, a police officer saw a group of young men acting suspiciously near Leo's Mini Market in Gillingham and checks later revealed a door had been forced and £10 in change had been stolen.
Ms Jacobson said the same afternoon Arnold was with part of a group which went into the One Stop Store in Watling Street, Chatham again stealing sweets and chocolate.
On June 4, at Peacocks in Gilingham, store manager Mandy Thompson saw two men acting suspiciously.
'If you are going to beat your problem then nobody else but you can do it,' Judge Adele Williams
"She stationed herself at the entrance anticipating the theft and after selecting £100 worth of clothes, Arnold ran up to Ms Thompson and pushed her in the chest before fleeing," Ms Jacobson said.
Arnold returned to the One Stop Store in Watling Street later that day, selecting cleaning products and chocolate and "brazenly walked out without paying", she added.
Four days later a group of men went into the Co-Op Store in Gillingham, and one of them packed a bag full of washing tablets.
"The store manager, Kim Rayfield, noticed this and went to the front of the store and as the men tried to leave she grabbed at the bag causing the items to spill. This defendant then pushed her in order to leave, " Ms Jacobson said.
On June 9 and 10, he raided the Seventh Day Adventists Church in Chatham but despite a search of cupboards nothing was stolen but police later found his blood near a broken window.
Then on July 2 three men were seen in the One Stop store in Beatty Road, Rochester, when one of the men selected washing items and leaving without paying.
The prosecutor said an hour later the gang went to the rear of the Co-op in Pattens Lane, Chatham and stole £200 in soft drinks - using wheelie bins to take their booty away.
Police put Arnold on their "wanted list" and on July 9 he was arrested and taken to Canterbury Police Station, the court heard.
Tom Stern, defending, said that Arnold had been using Class A drugs since he was 12-years-old and apart from a time when he became a father had lived a cycle on going in and out of prison.
Investigating officer PC Richard Sears said: "The volume of crimes committed by Arnold and persistent nature of his offences had a significant impact on the Medway community.
"I’m pleased our investigation has resulted in a custodial sentence so he can no longer target our local churches and shops."
More by this authorPaul Hooper