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16-year-old jailed for daring £24,000 raid

PUBLISHED: 18:00 09 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:10 01 July 2010

Matthew Sparkes

A pint-sized thief who stole jewellery worth more than £20,000 in a daring daylight raid on a Norwich store has been jailed.

The 16-year-old boy escaped with £24,000 of gold chains after taking them from under the noses of staff at Dipple & Sons, on Swan Lane.

Matthew Sparkes

A pint-sized thief who stole jewellery worth more than £20,000 in a daring daylight raid on a Norwich store has been jailed.

The 16-year-old boy escaped with £24,000 of gold chains after taking them from under the noses of staff at Dipple & Sons, on Swan Lane.

Yesterday, the 5ft tall teenager was sentenced to 12 months in a secure training centre after appearing before Norwich Youth Court.

An attempt by the Evening News to be able to identify him was denied by the court.

The crime took place on May 15, 2010 when the youngster walked into the jewellers and asked to see a large bundle of expensive necklaces.

Suzanna Choudhury, prosecuting, said over 100 chains were put in front of him, but instead of choosing one and paying for it he grabbed them all and ran out of the store.

However, his boyish face was caught on the store's advanced CCTV system and he was arrested five days later - but the chains were never recovered.

The court heard how the teenager had no known address and was stealing to repay a drug debt.

Mr Brown, mitigating, said that his client had a history of drug use but that he was unaware of the true value of the items.

He claimed that the cost of the chains “far, far outweighed the value of the debt” but that the “perceived threat and menace” of his creditors had been a motivation for the crime.

The boy pleaded guilty to the crime and also asked for two other cases of theft to be taken into account. Details of these cases were not revealed in court.

Chair of the magistrates, Pat Plummer, said: “This offence was aggravated in that it was very high value. This was a substantial loss to the jeweller.

“This was committed whilst you were subject to recall. It's the third theft of jewellery in a short period of time.”

She handed down a sentence of 12 months in a secure training centre, which would run consecutively with an existing three month sentence which he was on recall for.

The young man, who appeared in court dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, said that while inside he would spend “all day, every day” on his education.

He said that when released he wants to study painting and decorating at college, before starting work and living independently.

Despite having three thefts behind him, the Evening News was denied permission to name the young thief by the court.

Chris Ellis, director of Dipples & Sons, said that although the shop was insured the incident would still cost the firm time and money in making a claim.

“It's a lot of work and you can't claim all that back,” he said.

“It was actually me that was serving him and the one second I let go of it he grabbed it and ran.

“My initial thought was to chase him down and get them back but I've got a three-year-old.”

Mr Ellis, whose great-great-grandfather founded the store, said that he was thankful for installing a state-of-the-art security camera system.

Do you have a story for the Evening News to investigate? Contact Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

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