Thief steals laptop and blames bank

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A bungling thief who stole a laptop and then tried to steal another blamed the offences on the NatWest banking error.

Stephen Owen was caught on camera as he smashed a metal security chain off a £329 Packard Bell laptop in a Tesco store on June 22.

He then entered a changing room in the clothes section, put the computer inside his trousers and left without paying, Chesterfield magistrates heard.

Owen (43) returned to the store the next day and removed a £495 Acer laptop but this time he did not leave with the stolen item.

“He said a laptop had been stolen from his partner’s car some time earlier and he didn’t have any money because of the NatWest banking error.

“He intended to take the laptop to Cash Generators but, once outside Tesco, he saw he had damaged the screen so he threw it into the canal,” said Helen Griffiths, prosecuting.

She added: “He returned the following evening and did the same thing but he dropped the laptop inside the changing room and it broke.

“He said he left it in a nearby basket containing coat hangers. It was never recovered.”

Owen, of St Johns Road, Newbold, admitted charges of theft and attempted theft. He had three previous convictions for similar offences.

Sentence was adjourned for probation service reports.

“The NatWest error meant that he and his partner’s benefits had not been paid into their accounts,” said Bob Bashforth, for Owen.

“The intention was in essence to steal and pawn a laptop and then, when he had some money, reclaim it and it would replace his wife’s stolen computer.”