Bungling thieves in £1,000 crockery theft

Barton Grange Garden Centre

Barton Grange Garden Centre

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Two thieves tried to smuggle an unbelievable £1,000 of crockery from a popular garden centre.

William Appleton, a notorious thief in Preston, and his accomplice Craig Thomas Hammer walked into the upmarket shopping venue and tried to smuggle out the haul of crockery.

At the time Appleton was already subject to a community order.

Appleton, 60, of Waterloo Terrace, Ashton, Preston, admitted stealing £1,137 worth of items from Barton Grange garden centre in Bilsborrow.

The bench at Preston Magistrates’ Court said it was a “high value planning joint enterprise”, after hearing how the pair entered the garden centre on October 4.

Appleton also admitted stealing £1,150 of spirits from Booths supermarket in Garstang on August 19 and must pay compensation of £382 to the firm.

He was jailed for 20 weeks and must pay a £180 court charge.

Craig Hammer, 28, of Higher Walton Road, Walton-le-Dale, also admitted stealing the crockery.

However he avoided a jail term and was instead ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and to pay £230 compensation.

He must also pay a £60 surcharge and £180 courts charge.

Barton Grange declined to comment about the theft.

The garden centre started trading in March 2008 and was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne.

It is part of the Barton Grange Group empire, owned and run by the Topping family from Barton near Preston.

The group of companies dates back to 1945 when Mr and Mrs Edward Topping bought a small manor house on the A6 at Barton with plans to turn it into a hotel.