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Trusted customer steals valuable clothes from Norwich store

PUBLISHED: 14:00 10 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 July 2010

Imogen Parker

Imogen Parker

Tracey Gray

The owner of a Norwich shop has said she has been left devastated after a trusted customer stole £900 worth of clothing from her business.

The owner of a Norwich shop has said she has been left devastated after a trusted customer stole £900 worth of clothing from her business.

Teacher Imogen Parker appeared in court on Thursday after pleading guilty to a string of thefts from shops, including Walkers of Pottergate, Norwich.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how she had stolen goods worth more than £3,000 from Walkers and Upstairs Downstairs in Woodbridge, Suffolk, last January and in September 2008.

Anne Rowe, who runs Walkers of Pottergate with her husband Clive, said she had trusted Parker and spent two hours with her alone in the shop, but had no idea that during that time, Parker was concealing four jumpers worth a total of nearly £900 in a bag.

She said: “I was absolutely devastated and hurt that one of our trusted customers was so deceitful.

“In 20 years of trading we have always regarded our customers as top ladies and it was a shock to find they are not all like that.”

Parker pleaded guilty to a further four counts of possessing criminal property and one count of selling stolen property on the internet auction site Ebay.

She acquired property from several boutique outlets including Angela Fashions, Long Melford, and Colleen and Clare, Southwold, but had told police she was unable to account for how she obtained them.

The court heard that Parker, 43, of Sudbury Road, Bures St Mary, Suffolk, had been suffering from stress at the time of the thefts and had been diagnosed with depression by her GP.

The judge was told that Parker's husband had been unwell at the time the shoplifting happened, while friends and other family members had suffered from illness.

In sentencing, Judge David Goodwin said a combination of circumstances at home and at work had left Parker in a state of mind she “had not previously been in” in her life.

He said: “You are an educated woman of some ability and some experience, and valuable experience in your profession as a teacher.”

He explained that Parker had been afforded trust from staff at the shops where she had been a well-known and valued customer.

Parker, who has taught at schools in Suffolk and Essex in the past, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and was told to comply with a supervision order for 12 months.

She was also told to return to court in June when a decision will be made whether any further action will be taken under the Proceeds of Crime act.

Do you have a crime story for the Evening News? Call reporter Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or email ben.kendall@archant.co.uk

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