A serial shoplifter has been convicted of stealing more than £3,500 worth of goods in ONE trip – to discount store WILKO.
Rosa Calaca was seen on CCTV spending half an hour shovelling “handfuls” of cosmetics from the cheap shop shelves into shopping bags.
It was one of FIVE raids on the same store – in just nine days.
Calaca, 45, was convicted of five counts of theft from the Crawley branch of the homeware shop, during a robbing spree between March 18 and 26 last year.
The serial thief, from Crawley, West Sussex, did not turn up to Horsham Magistrates’ Court for trial last week, and was convicted in her absence.
Staff were unable to ascertain exactly how much the value was of the goods stolen by Calaca, but it is estimated to be at least £4,000.
Giving evidence, security officer Ryan Patterson said: “A stock gap was identified at the store so an investigation began.
“On March 26 I saw a woman enter the store with a large bag and she walked up and down while other people were in the area.
“When the coast was clear she then emptied boxes of stock, it was all confectionery goods such as chocolate and mints, into her bag.
“She then walked straight out of the store without paying.”
On this occasion £112 worth of stock was taken.
A member of staff recognised a woman on CCTV footage as someone on the town’s Shopwatch list – where different shops share pictures of shoplifters.
Ryan worked backwards through dates to find more CCTV of stock being taken – and Calaca appeared time and time again.
He said: “The face became familiar and imprinted in my mind.
“On March 25 she entered the store and appeared uncomfortable when staff were around her.
“Again when the coast was clear she emptied stock, this time worth £174, into a bag and left without attempting to pay.”
Her biggest shoplifting spree was on March 18 when she emptied a staggering £3,465 worth of cosmetics into her bag – and walked straight out.
Ryan said: “She spent 30 minutes walking up and down aisles taking handfuls of items before concealing them.”
The savvy security officer studied CCTV footage for four or five hours looking for Calaca.
He said: “I am 100 per cent sure it is the same woman in each instance and I am 99.9 per cent confident that woman is Rosa Calaca.
“She would wear the same clothing, same hat, same shoes and have the same bag.”
Prosecutor Christopher Prior said Calaca was eventually arrested on April 14 after police had been put on alert to catch her.
Chair of the bench Elaine Richards said: “We find the case to be proved.
“The prosecution witness was very reliable.
“He was able to identify Rosa Calaca as the person taking items without paying on these occasions on CCTV.”
The shameless shoplifter had six previous convictions for shoplifting between February 2013 and September 2014.
These included stealing 24 products worth £395 from the Body Shop and ten items of clothing from Bon Marche worth £211.50.
After the trial a warrant was issued for Calaca’s arrest but minutes after the case finished she appeared – and was told to go and hand herself into police.
She appeared in court the following day and was released on bail ahead of sentencing on February 26.
Wilko have been approached for a comment.
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