Man accused of thefts barred from all shops by judge

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An alleged thief charged with repeatedly targeting retailers is to be banned from entering any shop, the High Court has ordered.

Ryan Ritchie, 44, was told he must either use the internet or get someone else to make purchases for him.

Her Honour Judge McReynolds stressed: “If you need weekly groceries organise online shopping – you are not to be as much as in a petrol station.”

Ritchie, of Hartfield Avenue in Portadown, Co Armagh, is accused of stealing a toy hovercraft aeroplane valued at £19.99 and a £70 baby monitor.

The alleged thefts were carried out at branches of Home Bargains and Toymaster in his home town in December 2017 and September 2018.

He also faces a further count of possessing an article with a blade or point.

Prosecution counsel claimed Ritchie had a cutting knife on him when he was arrested for the second alleged theft.

According to a defence barrister his client suffers from depression.

Judge McReynolds set out how the offence of thieving from stores is going through “a period of transition”.

She said: “Because retail is currently suffering shops, as a business, employ less and less store detectives and in-store security.

“However, with the rise in shoplifting and the perception that it is repeatedly being organised by serious criminal gangs, this offence is beginning to be regarded by the criminal courts with more gravity.”

Granting bail, she confirmed the blanket ban on Ritchie going near retailers.

“He shall not enter any shopping centres or shops full stop,” the judge said.

“Even if you run out of cigarettes someone else will have to go for you; if you need anything else as an emergency someone else will have to go for you.”