SHOPLIFTERS have been warned they face being locked up after a prolific offender was jailed for a string of thefts across East Cambs.

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Melanie Bonas, 33, was jailed for a string of offences across East Cambridgeshire carried out with fellow thief Daniel Stainton, 39.

The pair helped themselves to bottles of champagne, electricals and pet food totalling hundreds of pounds from shops and stores in Soham, Ely, Burwell, Isleham and Fordham.

In one incident they took eight bottles of champagne from Waitrose in Brays Lane, Ely, including five bottles of Bollinger.

Stainton and Bonas, both of Tollgate Lane, Bury St Edmunds, would often work together with one selecting products and the other concealing them in bags or clothing.

Bonas admitted six thefts between April 27 and May 12 while Stainton pleaded guilty to seven offences between April 27 and May 12.

Bonas was jailed for 12 weeks at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on Friday (July 20) and ordered to pay a total of more than £300 to four stores in Fordham, Soham and Ely.

Stainton was sentenced to three months’ prison, suspended for two years, given a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am and ordered to pay a total of £400 compensation to the stores involved.

Sergeant Will Davis said: “These two were prolific offenders who targeted stores across East Cambridgeshire and beyond.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, it has a real impact on the business community and ultimately drives up prices for other customers.”

Police in East Cambridgeshire launched Operation Wicket to crack down on shoplifting.

Plans are in place to improve systems to allow shops, police and CCTV operators to quickly share images of suspected thieves.

There were 172 offences of shoplifting in East Cambs during 2011.

The crackdown is running alongside Cambridgeshire police’s Get Closer campaign which aims to target certain crime trends identified through crime data analysis.

Visit www.cambs-police.co.uk/GetCloser/Shoplifting for more information.

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