A “SOPHISTICATED” serial shoplifter who scanned high-value goods as cheap items racially abused a security guard when he was caught.
Antonio Costa targeted a number of Morrisons supermarkets where he would try to get away with hundreds of pounds worth of groceries for less than £10 by deceiving the self-service machines, Sheffield Crown Court heard on Tuesday (8).
Costa stole items worth more than £200 from Morrisons in Newark last September by scanning them as low-value products, Mr Matthew Burdon, prosecuting, told the court.
After getting away with the theft, he returned six days later and stole products worth £91 by scanning items worth just £8.25.
Costa was caught by security staff that time and the items were recovered.
When he was quizzed by police over the thefts he said it had been an “in the moment” thing and he had wanted to stock up on food for a fishing trip.
Costa’s shoplifting spree continued when he went to a Morrisons store in Barnsley on Christmas Eve and was caught trying to put items worth £183.83 through a self-service till as an item worth 25p, Mr Burdon said.
When Costa was caught by a guard outside the shop, he said: “If you’re f***ing foreign, get back to your own country.”
Costa had wire cutters, a foil-lined cup and a fake barcode with him when he was caught, Mr Burdon said.
He went to Morrisons in Huddersfield in January and was spotted on CCTV taking items from the wine and spirits aisle.
He paid £12.50 for items at the self-service checkout, but staff seized goods from him worth £280.61.
“He said he went into the store with the intention of paying but at the till he had a change of mind and thought he wouldn’t be able to pay,” said Mr Burdon.
In a separate incident last September, police found a Taser in Costa’s former home on Mount Pleasant Road, Rotherham.
He admitted having the Taser on the basis that someone else had brought it into his house and he had not known what it was until two days before the police had found it, Mr Burdon said.
Costa told police it had been brought to his house in a white box and he thought it had been a torch.
Costa, of Rachel Close, Gainsborough, admitted possession of a weapon used for discharge of electricity, going equipped to steal, racially-aggravated threatening behaviour and four charges of theft at earlier hearings at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
He has 16 convictions for 35 previous offences, with thefts dating back to 1980, the court heard.
Mitigating, Mr Kevin Jones said Costa had stayed out of trouble for five months before his sentencing, and that had been a positive start for him.
Judge Roger Thomas said he could not suspend Costa’s 14-month prison term.
He said: “This isn’t shoplifting by someone doing his or her best to put bread on the table.
“This is sophisticated shoplifting involving the stealing of high-value items.”