ONE of the country’s most prolific shoplifters is behind bars after pleading guilty to a further crime spree just three weeks after last appearing at Bolton Magistrates’ Court.

This time the court heard how pensioner Harry Hankinson attempted to steal designer goods including a £1,900 watch, a handbag and purses from luxury department store Selfridges.

Hankinson, aged 65, of Kingsley Street, Halliwell, regularly hits the headlines over his unrelenting efforts to steal from shops.

He now has a total of 235 convictions for 521 offences, 432 of them for theft.

Nicola Ormerod, prosecuting, told the court: “It may be the biggest record in the country — or very much close to it.”

She added that he has repeatedly offended over the last year and has been given many non-custodial sentences by the courts.

Miss Ormerod that Hankinson’s latest shoplifting started on February 18 when he was identified on CCTV taking meat, worth £110, from Sainsburys in Bolton.

The following day the pensioner targeted Aldi in Higher Bridge Street and attempted to smuggle six bottles of alcohol, valued at £91, out of the store in his jacket. A member of the public helped staff detain him.

On February 27 he travelled to Manchester and was stopped stuffing clothing, worth £175, into a bag in Marks and Spencer.

But the next day he was back in the city again. This time he visited upmarket department store Selfridges and asked to look at several designer watches. Whilst the assistant’s back was turned he pocketed a Longines watch, worth £1,900.

When security staff detained him and he was searched they also found he had stolen two purses and a handbag from the shop.

On March 5 at a Tesco store in Bolton Hankinson warned staff he had a metal pin in his leg which might set off security alarms, but he was spotted concealing alcohol valued at £390 in a bag and detained.

Then on March 7 he was arrested after stealing two bottle of perfume from the House of Fraser store in Manchester.

Asad Khan, defending, said Hankinson’s shoplifting was “clumsy and ill thought-out” so that he did not manage to get away with goods and was caught.

Magistrates decided Hankinson should be sent to Bolton Crown Court on April 17 for sentencing and in the meantime he was remanded in custody.