Woman turned detective to track down burglar who targeted Doncaster dog-grooming parlour

A prolific shoplifter who was jailed for two years after a crime spree in which he burgled a dog-grooming parlour was tracked down when the owner’s determined daughter turned detective.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 12:59 pm

Malcolm Bennett caused £300 of damage by forcing a rear door with a crowbar before stealing £3,000 of equipment from Crystal’s Dog Grooming Salon, in Dunscroft, Doncaster, on April 10.

Prosecutor Stephanie Hollis told Sheffield Crown Court how Charmaine Whitlam, who works at the parlour with her mum Jane, checked nearby CCTV and found footage of Bennett, and his girlfriend, loading the goods into a red and black wheelie bin and making off.

She later followed the defendant's brother to an address on Broadway, and found the wheelie bin outside, still containing bottles of dog shampoo.

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A still from Charmaine Whitlam's CCTV footage which helped to track down Bennett.

Speaking after the court case to the Doncaster Free Press, Charmaine, aged 27, revealed she used to work at HMP Lindholme and is a keen fan of forensic police work.

"I went to every house that had CCTV to see if they had anything,” she said. “I never seem to let things drop.

“When the police were here I asked them if they could take my prints!”

Proud mum Jane described Charmaine as “fantastic” and added they are now rebuilding the business.

On Thursday, the court heard how Bennett caused £687 of damage when trying to break into a parked car, two days after the burglary, before his arrest, on April 18.

He also stole more than £1,500 of goods, in 27 thefts from stores in Stainforth and Dunscroft, between March 4 and 19, on May 10 and 11, and between June and August.

He mainly targeted goods that could be easily re-sold and concentrated on One-Stop Shops and McColls stores, Ms Hollis said.

The court heard that staff at a One-Stop Shop said they were scared of approaching Bennett when he entered and were losing custom because of his thieving.

On July 14, he also stole a £35 box of PPE equipment from another parked car. He was finally arrested on August 4.

He has previous convictions for 26 offences, including theft and dishonesty, and last appeared in court, in February, when he was fined for shoplifting.

Cheryl Dudley, mitigating, said Bennett was "genuinely remorseful" and spoke of his "shame and disgust" about the catalogue of offending.

"He became addicted to crack cocaine and spiralled out of control," she said. "He says "I deserve what I get.""

She said all his offending happened in the Dunscroft area where he is well-known, and "he expected to get caught."

Bennett, 36, formerly of Doncaster Road, Stainforth, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to shop theft, criminal damage, two thefts from cars, and burglary.

On Thursday, Judge Graham Reeds QC sentenced him to a total of two years.

You can read all about the latest cases from Sheffield Crown Court here.

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