The early release from prison of a serial shoplifter responsible for a number of break-ins and thefts in Spalding has sparked outrage in the town.
Matthew Dye, whose last know address was West Parade, Spalding, served just five weeks of a 26-week prison term imposed for five separate acts of shoplifting and four burglaries in Spalding, Pinchbeck and Boston between November 2016 and January 2018.
These include two break-ins on the same day, October 25, 2017, at Classic News in Sheep Market, Spalding, from which Dye stole cigarettes, tobacco, scratch cards, a cash register and petty cash worth an estimated £3,300.
Asghar Vanparekh, co-owner of Classic News along with his brother-in-law Abbas Laxmidhar, said: “When we heard the news that Dye was out of jail, we were nervous and now we’re scared for our safety.
“Dye hasn’t even served a quarter of his sentence and when I spoke to the detective who handled out case, he was surprised to hear of his release as well.
“We’ve put new security measures in place at the shop but we’re still vulnerable to another break-in.
The fact that Dye received 26 weeks in prison, only to come out after just five weeks, is a complete disgrace to our justice systemRetired Spalding police sergeant Stuart Brotherton, now coordinator of Shopwatch Spalding and Holbeach
“Even with all the alarms we had at the shop, Dye still managed to break in last October and if he does it again, it’ll mean a lot of hassle for us dealing with our insurance company.
“What also puzzles us is that we had two break-ins during January but the police still haven’t charged anybody yet.
“So it worries us to think that there might be somebody else out there wanting to break into the shop again and we don’t know how to stop them.”
Dye was sentenced by Lincoln magistrates on February 10 when he admitted to the two break-ins at Classic News, along with stealing cosmetics and alcohol worth about £600 from Superdrug, Spalding, and Morrisons in Pinchbeck between January 12 and 14.
However, most of Dye’s jail term related to the activation of a 24-week suspended sentence originally imposed on January 9 for burglaries at Abbey Print, Pinchbeck, and B & Q, Holland Market, Spalding, on November 9 and 14, 2017, respectively.
Retired Spalding police sergeant Stuart Brotherton, now coordinator of Shopwatch Spalding and Holbeach, said: “The fact that Dye received 26 weeks in prison, only to come out after just five weeks, is a complete disgrace to our justice system. “This is certainly no deterrent but rather a scathing attack on the courts and how these people are dealt with.
“It’s achieved absolutely nothing as Dye barely had time to empty his holdall and the police are as equally frustrated as I am.
“John Hayes (MP for South Holland and the Deepings) must impress upon Justice Secretary David Gauke that a different way of dealing with these people must be found.
“My job is to look after the retailers who are in the Shopwatch scheme in order to deter shoplifting and a 26-week jail sentence for someone who is absolutely stripping our town centre of its goods is just laughable.”
Speaking shortly after Dye was sentenced, Mr Hayes told the Lincolnshire Free Press; “There’s been an increase in shoplifting across Spalding this year and it seems to have been perpetrated by a small group of individuals who are repeat offenders.
“This is relatively inexpensive criminality but it’s neither fair nor right that our shops are being put under this kind of pressure.
“So I’m going to see what can be done to change the thinking on sentencing because our shopkeepers should be protected, rather than be out of pocket.”
However, Jon Collins, chief executive of the Magistrates Association, said: “Magistrates must treat each individual case on its merits and in line with the law and appropriate sentencing guidelines.
“The level of culpability and harm caused must be assessed, aggravating and mitigating factors must be considered, and any guilty plea must be taken into account.
“This approach ensures that sentences are proportionate and that sentencing is consistent.”