Britain’s most prolific thief jailed after his 332nd offence

July 15, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

Britain’s most prolific thief has been jailed again for his 332ND offence – in a criminal career dating back 50 YEARS.

Serial shoplifter Robert Knowles, 66, first broke the law aged 13 and has been in court 185 times – at least once a year since 1959.

His stealing stretches back seven decades and even prosecutors have lost track of his expansive rap sheet – which includes 197 convictions for shoplifting alone.

Serial thief Robert Knowleshas been convicted of his 332nd offence

Serial thief Robert Knowleshas been convicted of his 332nd offence

Knowles’ latest offences were thefts on successive days at a Marks and Spencer in Plymouth, Devon.

The alcoholic first swiped two bottles of whisky worth £70 on June 10 but sympathetic staff let him go free.

He rewarded their kindness by returning the next day to trouser £30 worth of wine, chicken and a boxer shorts.

Plymouth Crown Court heard the thefts came just one week after Knowles’ previous court appearance, when he had escaped with a fine.

Homeless Knowles, of Plymouth, who has spent a large portion of his adult life behind bars, admitted two counts of theft.

The court heard he was so institutionalised he may have committed the offences simply to return to prison.

Ali Rafati, defending, aid Knowles was unwell and needed a CT scan to determine what was wrong.

He added: “He does not seem to be able to cope with life on the outside at the moment.”

Jailing him for eight months, Judge Paul Darlow said: “You have had 184 court appearances. We have reached the end of the road.

“I am sure you will be able to get the CT scan you need in prison.”

The Crown Prosecution Service says it is unable to provide a full breakdown of Knowles’ offences because so many of them they pre-date its creation in 1986.

In a previous brush with the law back in 2012 Knowles was jailed for stealing whiskey miniatures the day after finishing a spell in prison.

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