A PROLIFIC shoplifter stole more than £1,600 worth of items after repeatedly targeting BP stores in Southend.

Christopher Burke, 39, of Whitegate Road, Southend, had been raiding BP stores in Rayleigh and Southend, sometimes entering the same store three times in one day to steal goods.

In December, Burke hit Rayleigh and Southend BP stores 17 times in 13 days, stealing a total of £1,615.

Burke was arrested and admitted the offences before magistrates on December 21.

It is the latest in a number of offences committed by Burke across the city. 

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Since August, Burke has been specifically targeting BP stores in the Rayleigh and Southend area.

“In October he was arrested in Rayleigh and admitted to 35 offences of theft from shop. He was given a fine and a rehabilitation activity requirement and a Criminal Behavioural Order (CBO) to not enter any BP stores in the county of Essex.

“In November Burke was arrested in Southend for five thefts from BH shops from and the breaches of CBO and given a fine and a conditional discharge.”

A September theft saw Burke arrested at around 6.40am by two Southend officers.

Burke had filled a shopping bag with chocolate and tea and walked out without paying.

After Burke’s arrest, shop staff told investigating officers from Southend Town Centre Team (TCT) Burke had stolen energy drinks and more chocolate on 11, 13 and 15 September as well.

Further investigations showed that Burke had also stolen items from The Range in Short Street, Southend, on 11 September.

On that occasion, a security officer had recovered the goods and Burke had been banned from the store.

Operation Raker was launched in September and sees a small team within Southend committed to dealing with the city’s most frequent offenders.

PC Alex Plakhtienko, of Essex Police’s Business Crime Team worked with the Southend TCT.

He said: “Burke’s abuse towards shop staff has had a serious impact on them and the customers in the stores he has targeted.

“We want retail staff to feel safe in their working environment and so we use criminal behaviour orders as a means of achieving this.”

Burke’s next court appearance will be on January 22 in Basildon Crown Court.