A “PROFESSIONAL” jewel thief who pocketed two gold chains from a Truro shop has been jailed.
Stephen Hill, 55, was with his daughter looking for a birthday present for her on January 22 when he sneakily stole the items worth £1,925 from independent Klimek Jewellers.
Hill, who made sure the sales assistants was distracted serving his daughter when he palmed the chains, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court on Friday.
Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, said HIll had acted with “blatant effrontery”.
He said: “You are an accomplished jewel thief.
“It is quite clear from the video that you successfully and with great skill and adroitness palmed and pocketed two gold chains.”
Hill’s daughter, Jude, was also charged with offences relating to the incident but these were dropped.
On CCTV footage shown in court Hill is seen arriving with his daughter and sitting down at a table where the assistant shows them a number of chains.
While his daughter is trying on a chain, Hill skilfully pockets two, making it look as if he returned the items to their display cases.
In a statement read out in court, owner Bettina Klimek said she felt angry and anxious since the theft and that the assistant who had served the Hills was distraught and felt guilty.
Brian Fitzherbert, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Hill had 33 similar previous convictions dating back to the 1970s when he was regularly in court and served a number of prison sentences.
His offences include three in 2004 for stealing gold chains from jewellers in Torquay, Helston and Falmouth worth £2,018 and for stealing jewellery in Geneva, Switzerland, between February 2002 and September 2008.
Nigel Hall, defending, said Hill, of Wordsworth Crescent, Plymouth, had taken his daughter to the Lemon Street jewellers because it was her birthday and that he had money with him.
He said: “That is why they were in the jewellers.
“His daughter looked at the jewellery and it became apparent that the jeweller did not have what she wanted ... Mr Hill saw the opportunity of the shop assistant dealing with his daughter and unfortunately he reverted back to old behaviour.”
Mr Hall said Hill was aware that his actions had affected his daughter, who had been arrested and his 82-year-old mother, who he cared for.
Sentencing Hill to 21 months in jail, Judge Clark said: “The offence had all the hallmarks of someone professionally at his work.”