A Wagga woman accused of stealing a football guernsey from Best and Less before making off with a vacuum cleaner from Harvey Norman in Young has been convicted of the offences in local court.
Sharmaine Hurst of Zeiger Avenue, Korringal near Wagga was convicted in her absence on May 3 to two counts of shoplifting.
According to police facts tendered in court, the 24-year-old entered Best and Less in Young with another woman, man and two children before 5pm on April 4.
As soon as the store’s assistant manager left the NRL clothing section, Hurst ducked down behind the display rack with a Bulldogs guernsey worth $40 and removed the tags.
She shoved the jersey into her shoulder bag and stood up, walking away from the area.
A staff member recovered the tag almost immediately after the incident and alerted management.
The store manager began trawling through CCTV footage as Hurst and company left the building, sitting in the gutter out the front before later driving away.
But Hurst’s thieving antics didn’t end there, with the group heading towards Harvey Norman at the other end of Boorowa Street about 20 minutes later.
A male employee was in the office at the rear of Harvey Norman when he saw Hurst rush out the front door, carrying what appeared to be a large box.
He walked to the front door and saw her putting a grey and green box into the boot of a grey Holden Cruze sedan.
The employee called out to her before returning inside the store to supervise a man, woman and two children in the electronics area.
He approached the group, finding their behaviour strange as they spoke about random topics and their voices and hands shaky.
The store manager walked to the front door and watched the car outside.
The man in the store demanded to know why he was staring at the car, arguing with the manager before the group left and hopped in the car of interest.
Staff members inspected a number of displays near the front door and noticed a vacuum cleaner worth $449 missing from the floor display.
Police were patrolling Thornhill Street about 5.40pm when they saw the described car parked at Big W, spotting the party inside at the registers.
Hurst was evasive with her answers when officers questioned her about the Harvey Norman incident.
When they asked her if she had arrived by car, she told them she didn’t know.
She denied being at Harvey Norman, saying she wasn’t “even there” and that she was at Best and Less half an hour ago.
Police told her they were going to search her car for a stolen vacuum cleaner, to which she replied “you will find one in there but it’s been in there for ages”.
Officers found the vacuum cleaner still in the box at the back of the boot of the car, behind pillows, fishing gear and a fold-up stroller.
Police asked for a receipt, which Hurst couldn’t provide.
The man and woman accompanying Hurst claimed no knowledge of the alleged offence.
Hurst was fined $500 for each shoplifting offence and ordered to pay $40 in compensation to Best and Less.
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