A PROLIFIC shoplifter has become the first person to be banned from shops in Basildon town centre in an ambitious bid to stop her from offending.

Sally Burrows, 44, of no fixed address, was charged with stealing from B&M in Basildon’s Town Square on Sunday, May 26.

She admitted the offences at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and was handed a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £49.22 compensation and a £20 victim surcharge.

A criminal behaviour order was also made, which bans Burrows from entering B&M, Next and Wilko for two years.

She has also been banned from going to The Moon On The Square - the Wetherspoon’s pub in the town centre.

Bob Fortt, one of Essex Police’s antisocial behaviour officers, said: “This is the first criminal behaviour order we’ve obtained for a prolific shoplifter in Basildon.

“We will continue to work closely with local businesses to bring offenders to justice and protect the public.”

A criminal behaviour order is available to the courts only when a defendant is convicted and is aimed at tackling persistent offenders.

They can be used to impose mandatory conditions on the prolific criminal which will help address their behaviour.

If breached, defendants can face up to five years in prison.

Residents expressed concern over the seemingly light sentence.

Basildon man Barry Hoad said: “So, she is a prolific shoplifter, and been caught before.

“So what is the point of a conditional discharge, and a fine?

“Our courts are out of touch.”

Becky Lancaster added: “A piece of paper is not going to stop someone from stealing when they have been doing it all their life.

“Prison time and rehabilitation work is what’s needed to address why someone is doing it so persistently.”

The court heard that Burrows, of no fixed address, had previously been heavily convicted for stealing from the three shops and selling the items on over the course of a number of years.

Burrows, who has been in and out of prison for more than a decade, was previously handed an antisocial behaviour order in 2010 which banned her from Eastgate shopping centre for three years after she was caught stealing on several occasions.

She was jailed for six weeks after breaching the order.