Criminology lecturer ‘stole £1,000 worth of Le Creuset, gin and steak in shoplif t spree’
A SENIOR criminology lecturer stole more than £1,000 of Le Creuset cookware, steaks, and boutique gin in a shoplifting spree at Marks & Spencer and a garden centre, a court has heard.
Pauline Al Said was allegedly caught trying to take more than £500 of alcohol and gifts from the nursery while armed with a de-tagging device.
Prosecutors said the 33-year-old academic was caught by undercover security guards with 33 thick-cut sirloin, rib eye and fillet steaks piled into her trolley in a branch of Marks and Spencer. When she was confronted at the garden centre, her husband Mark Wheatcroft allegedly threatened to ‘lay out’ the store detective and threw a punch.
Al Said, formerly a lecturer at Bath Spa University, and her 54-year-old spouse made the first shoplifting attempt at the Old
Barn nursery in Horsham, West Sussex, the court heard.
Mary Aspinall-Miles, prosecuting, said the spree was during the ‘run up to Christmas’, on December 14, 2021. She told jurors the garden centre had hired an undercover security guard – called John Dunkling – to ‘prevent loss’.
Ms Aspinall-Miles said Mr Dunkling noticed the defendant pushing a trolley containing carrier bags from a different shop, which ‘appeared to be full’. Al Said was then seen ‘pushing customers’ as she tried to leave.
Mr Dunkling followed her and asked to look inside her bags, the prosecutor said.
Al Said passed him a bag saying, ‘you can have your stuff, I am going’, Winchester Crown Court heard. Inside the bag was £400 worth of ‘high-value spirits’ including Mermaid brand gin – worth around £35 a bottle – and spiced rum.
Ms Aspinall-Miles said a second bag was searched, which contained more bottles of alcohol, as well as cookware and condiments from high-end French-Belgian brand Le Creuset.
Then Wheatcroft – also known as Mohammed Al Said – appeared. He told the detective ‘just forget it, we’re going’, jurors were told.
Ms Aspinall-Miles said: ‘Not only did Mr Wheatcroft not offer any assistance, explanation or apology, he became very aggressive to Mr Dunkling.’ She said he told the store detective: ‘F*** off or I will lay you out’.
When Mr Dunkling tried to take a photo of him, Wheatcroft ‘threw a punch’ at him.
Al Said’s stolen goods – worth £581.43 – were seized and a security tag remover was found in her bag, the court heard this week.
Police took details from the couple, from Southsea, Hampshire.
The following September Al Said was in Marks & Spencer in Winchester when another undercover security guard noticed her ‘piling meat’ into large shopping bags, the court heard. He said when she saw him watching, the ex-lecturer ‘flicked him the middle finger’.
Al Said was caught with 33 ‘highvalue’ sirloin, rib eye and fillet steaks found in bags in her trolley. The prosecutor said nine bottles of wine were also in her possession – bringing her M&S haul to £570.42.
Ms Aspinall-Miles said: ‘These are traditional items that shoplifters take, they are easily sold on to others.’ Al Said denies two charges of theft and Wheatcroft denies one count of theft and one count of assault. The trial continues.
‘You can have your stuff. I’m going’