A shoplifter was caught at Waitrose because she did “not quite fit” with the supermarket’s “upper class and very well-dressed” clientele, a jury heard.
Kelly Pierson, who turned up to court in grubby clothes with a cigarette dangling from her lips, was described by one staff member as looking “a mess” and like a “typical drug user.”
Team leader Mark Barnes said he was suspicious when he spotted Pierson pushing her trolley in the meat aisle at Waitrose‘s store in Sevenoaks, Kent.
It was full of high-end products, including several packs of steak and numerous coffee jars, and he said they were not typical of a weekly shop.
He told the jury: “She looked like she was potentially under the influence of drink or drugs.
“She did not quite fit the Waitrose, Sevenoaks, customer.
“I watched her for some time and noticed her shopping was out of the ordinary and her trolley had quite a number of high-end products.”
Pierson, 41, was stopped by the general manager as she tried to leave the store via a lift without paying for her trolley full of £254 worth of groceries.
It included four packets of steak, five jars of Nescafe Gold Blend at #8.85 each, Welsh lamb, tuna at £6 a tin and a pack of chicken breasts priced £12.99.
Prosecutor Sarah Lindop said she started crying, said she was a single parent and had intended to pay, pulling out £40 in cash.
Pierson, of Orpington, Kent, denied theft on June 16 last year but was convicted by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court.
She was sentenced to a community order with a tagged curfew between 7pm and 6am for four months.
Mr Barnes agreed that Waitrose, whose previous slogans include ‘Everyone deserves Waitrose‘, did not have a dress code.
The case attracted several online comments.
‘Scooby’ wrote: “Are we sure this is not Catherine Tate?”
DaveT wrote: “Gosh, dahlings! I really must protest in the strongest possible terms. One doesn’t meet shoplifters at Waitrose. One receives an introduction to Kleptomaniacs. So much better than the average vagabond? dontcha think?”
Loother wrote: “Waitrose staff’s unsavoury comments about customer’s appearance are prejudicial and defamatory, especially as they relate to this woman before any personal contact.
“I know people have these thoughts, as it is human nature, but it is indicative of a nasty side of people who think they are better than others because of their financial worth.”
Colin Mckay wrote: “Best get my collar & tie out before I shop in Waitrose oh and perhaps have a shave.”