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Shoplifter Benjamin Birch jailed after stealing from stores in Whitstable, Faversham, Sandwich and Birchington

A "brazen" shoplifter has been jailed for over two years after stealing about £1,500 worth of goods from supermarkets across the county.

Benjamin Birch, 37, stole high-value items including joints of meat, boxes of washing detergent, tubs of chocolates, packets of razor blades and bottles of gin, from a wide number of shops.

Benjamin Birch has been jailed. Pic: Kent Police
Benjamin Birch has been jailed. Pic: Kent Police

Between July 29 and October 14, Birch targeted seven stores in Birchington, Whitstable, Sandwich, and Faversham, carrying out a total of 20 thefts.

The stores he targeted included branches of Tesco, Aldi, Co-op and Sainsbury's.

Birch repeatedly smuggled goods out of the shops by hiding them in bags, or in his walking frame.

But the extent of his shoplifting was only realised when staff reviewed their CCTV footage and saw his stealing had been caught on camera.

On one occasion, at Sainsbury's in Bysing Wood Road, Faversham, he stole at least 14 beef joints - placing them into shopping bags before leaving the store. Although shop staff tried to stop him, he left with almost all of the stolen items.

Shoplifting in Faversham. Pic: Kent Police
Shoplifting in Faversham. Pic: Kent Police

Birch, of Westmeads Road in Whitstable, admitted the charges.

He was sentenced to a total of 114 weeks in prison, at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday (November 18).

Sergeant Lee Thompson of Kent Police, who oversaw the investigation, said: "Birch’s propensity for stealing meant the stores were left out of pocket, amounting to losses of hundreds of pounds each.

"Staff working at the stores reported that he would often intimidate them and claim he had needles he would use against them if they tried to stop him.

"He was brazen in his approach, ignoring any bans to enter the stores and he showed little concern for the impact his stealing was having, not just on the businesses, but the staff whose time was spent reviewing CCTV and reporting the incidents when it should have been focused on customers instead.

Stealing from a store in Whitstable. Pic: Kent Police
Stealing from a store in Whitstable. Pic: Kent Police
Birch stealing from a store in Sandwich. Pic: Kent Police
Birch stealing from a store in Sandwich. Pic: Kent Police

"I am grateful to the stores and their staff for supporting the investigation. Shoplifting and theft in general is unacceptable and Kent Police will always work to identify those responsible for such crimes to ensure they are brought to justice."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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