‘Prison sentences not enough to deter shoplifters’, say Spalding traders

Matthew Dye (32) who was jailed for a total of 26 weeks for burglary and shoplifting, including two break-ins on the same day at Classic News, Sheep Market, Spalding, in October 2017. Photo supplied by Lincolnshire Police.
  • Retired cop and shop owners want repeat criminals to pay back community

A man jailed for a series of burglaries and shoplifting in Spalding and Pinchbeck should be made to “put something back into society”.

The call comes from retired police officer Stuart Brotherton, co-ordinator of ShopWatch Spalding and Holbeach, who has joined traders in questioning the 26-week prison sentence handed down to Matthew Dye (32) by magistrates on February 10.

Darren Sutton, co-owner of Charmed Interiors and chairman of the Spalding Town Retailers' Association. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG160216-103TW.

Dye, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to back-to-back break-ins at Classic News in Sheep Market, Spalding, on October 25 when cigarettes, tobacco, scratch cards, petty cash and a cash register worth a total of at least £3,300 were stolen.

He also admitted stealing about £600 worth of goods, including cosmetics, cognac, gin and whisky, from Superdrug in Spalding and Morrisons in Pinchbeck between January 12 and 14.

Mr Brotherton said: “The average person in the street is going to think that Dye will spend 26 weeks in prison for shoplifting.

“But what he has got is 26 weeks in prison for burglary which will be reduced drastically because of his guilty plea.

Courts should impose a post-conviction criminal behaviour order, with conditions that include offenders not being allowed to go into the town centre

Stuart Brotherton, co-ordinator of ShopWatch Spalding and Holbeach

“So he’ll probably come out of prison in far less than 26 weeks with a big smile on his face.”

because he’s been looked after, with three meals a day and having been able to watch TV.

“It’s good news in the short term for the shops because the prison sentence takes Dye off the streets for a while which gives our shopkeepers some peace.

“But there’s no mention of any community service in Dye’s sentence for him to try and put something back into society.”

Stuart Brotherton, coordinator of Shopwatch Spalding and Holbeach, has called for more community-based sentences to be imposed on shoplifters. Photo by Tim Wilson. ''SG041217-108TW.

The bulk of Dye’s jail term, 24 weeks, related to the activation of a suspended sentence imposed by magistrates in January for burglaries at the B & Q store and Abbey Print, both in Spalding, last November.

Two weeks were added for one of the shoplifting offences at Morrison on January 13 when Dye stole five bottles of gin worth £256.

Mr Brotherton said: “Jail is just a punitive way of dealing with a guy who has breached his suspended sentence order.

“But there’s no reparation to the poor shopkeepers and although I’m all in favour of giving people a chance to mend their ways, some people won’t be reformed.

“Courts should impose a post-conviction criminal behaviour order, with conditions that include offenders not being allowed to go into the town centre.”

Figures from the website Police UK showed that 244 shoplifting incidents were reported in 2017, a rise of nearly 19 per cent on 2016, whilst burglaries rose by more than five per cent, with 70 incidents reported last year.

Darren Sutton, chairman of Spalding Town Retailers’ Association and co-owner of both Bookmark Spalding, of The Crescent, and Charmed Interiors, of Sheep Market, said: “The magistrates and courts aren’t sending out a good message by not handing sentences that are a deterrent for criminals.

“At the same time, traders are investing a lot of money into cameras to stop shoplifting, only for crimanals to get a slap on the wrist.

“We need John Hayes (MP for South Holland and the Deepings) to get involved so that the Government and the courts can do more about shoplifting.”

In response, Mr Hayes said: “There has been an increase in shoplifting in Spalding over the past year which seems to have been perpetrated by a small group of individuals who are repeat offenders.

“It’s not fair or right for our shopkeepers to be put under this kind of pressure so I’m going to see what can be one to change the thinking on sentencing so that Stuart’s view regarding community-based penalties can be imposed.”

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