TWO “brazen” thieves stole almost £4,000 of spirits, champagne and razor blades from Tesco stores across Carmarthenshire.

Craig Cullen and Gary Martin appeared at Swansea Crown Court facing six charges of shoplifting from the Tesco stores in Ystradgynlais, Ammanford and Llanelli in June and July.

“The defendants were seen to enter the stores, sometimes on their own and sometimes together,” prosecutor Brian Simpson said. “They would then load spirits in to a trolley and walk out without paying.”

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On June 29, the pair stole 21 bottles of spirits worth £452 from the Llanelli store, and the following day they returned and swiped 22 bottles of spirits, worth £658.

They struck at Tesco in Ystradgynlais, stealing more than £700 of spirits, champagne, razor blades and groceries on July 8.

On July 13, they stole spirits and champagne from Ammanford Tesco – as well as stealing the trolley – and then £978.75 of champagne and spirits from the Ystradgynlais store the next day.

The final offence saw the pair stealing 15 bottles of champagne, worth around £800, from the Tesco in Ystradgynlais on July 19.

In total, the value of the items stolen was £3,884.65, Mr Simpson said.

The van that the pair used was tracked by police, and they were arrested on July 25 as they parked up outside Morrison’s in Carmarthen.

Cullen, 38, has 25 previous convictions for 53 offences – 20 of which were for theft and similar offences – while 60-year-old Martin has 25 previous convictions for 64 offences – of which 17 were for theft or like offences.

Mr Evans, defending, said Cullen had been released from prison in May, but despite engaging with the local drugs agency, he had “fallen in to his old ways”.

“Particularly on the weekend, he has engaged in binge sessions using alcohol and cocaine to excess,” he said.

“He didn’t have the funds to maintain this.

“Mr Cullen took what he saw as the easy route. The dishonest route.”

Mr Griffiths, representing Martin, said the defendant had fallen in to rent arrears with his long-term property.

“He was under immense pressure with the cost of living crisis and was struggling to provide as he would have liked for his partner and their three year old daughter,” he said.

“He described how through feeling an overriding sense of desperation, he went on to make an extremely foolish decision.

“Having got away with it once, he repeated his actions.”

“These were brazen thefts by two men who had committed themselves to earn something of a living from stealing from these supermarkets,” said Judge Geraint Walters.

Judge Walters suggested the pair could have been encouraged in to their offending by reading reports that the police did not prosecute shoplifters – and said that ultimately customers would be left to foot the bill.

“This sentence should send a message clearly to people that the courts will protect those stores and their property and the staff,” he said.

The defendants, both of Townhill Road in Mayhill, Swansea, were each sentenced to nine months – running concurrently for each theft.