A SERIAL shoplifter has been banned from every Co-op in Essex after police linked him to 24 offences targeting the supermarket brand.

Scott Butcher, 36, has been jailed for almost a year after he was caught out following his campaign of thefts from Co-ops in and around Colchester.

He was arrested on Friday after officers were alerted to a theft which had taken place at a Co-op in Wivenhoe.

Butcher was found a short time later at about 11.30am driving a vehicle linked to the raid.

Echo: Menace - Scott Butcher stole from a Co-op shop on 24 occasionsMenace - Scott Butcher stole from a Co-op shop on 24 occasions (Image: Essex Police)

During a search of the vehicle, the police found numerous items which had been reported missing from a separate Co-op in Tamarisk Way, Greenstead, earlier that day.

An investigation saw Butcher linked to 22 other thefts from Co-ops in Wimpole Road, The Avenue, Iceni Way and The Commons.

Co-ops in Weavers Court, Halstead, and Challis Way, Braintree, were also targeted by the crook, who took more than £3,000 worth of goods in total.

Butcher, of no fixed address, admitted all charges at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court and was jailed for 51 weeks.

Echo: Targeted - Butcher stole from the Co-op in Tamarisk Way, GreensteadTargeted - Butcher stole from the Co-op in Tamarisk Way, Greenstead (Image: Newsquest)

A criminal behaviour order banning him from entering all Co-ops in Essex was imposed for three years.

Colchester district commander Chief Insp Colin Cox said Butcher posed a “significant menace” to businesses across the city.

“The work required to link him to each of these offences should not be underestimated and that is shown by the fact that he had no option but to admit his guilt at court on Saturday,” he said.

“The outcome of this hearing shows not only that we will not tolerate this offending, but that we are not content with putting perpetrators before the courts.

Echo: Sentencing - Butcher was jailed at Chelmsford Magistrates' CourtSentencing - Butcher was jailed at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court

“[We] will go further to secure orders which prevents offending when he is released from prison and make no mistake, any breach will be acted upon quickly and robustly.”

Alex Plakhtienko, of the Essex Police Business Crime Team, worked with the Crown Prosecution Service to secure the CBO.

He said: “We have a duty to protect all victims of crime from repeat offenders.”