Britain's most prolific thief who 'enjoys shoplifting' back in jail after her 278th conviction

One of Britain’s most prolific shoplifters is back behind bars after her 278th conviction.

Joanne Jones, 41, from Canterbury, Kent, once claimed to enjoy shoplifting, saying: “I’ll nick anything.”

She has racked up more than ten offences a year and spent her adult life in and out of prison.

As a result, she has been banned from almost every shop in her hometown.

For her latest offence, she stole coats worth £70 from an 11-year-old schoolgirl, swiping the bag from her in a Wilko store in November.

Joanne Jones has more than 200 convictions for shoplifting (Picture: SWNS)

Canterbury Crown Court also heard she targeted clothing store Cath Kidston in The Parade four times between March and December, stealing a total of £713 worth of items, including handbags, speakers, a wallet and a back pack.

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Jones, who is now on a heroin substitute, admitted five charges of theft last week and was sentenced to 34 weeks in jail.

She committed the majority of her most recent crimes in breach of a suspended prison sentence for stealing goods worth £1 from Poundland.

Jones was convicted again last week (Picture: SWNS)

As with most of her offending, Jones’ solicitor, Simon Taylor, said the thefts were caused by her long-term addiction to drugs, which he said affects her “ability to make rational decisions”.

He said: “This is typical shambolic acquisitive offending at the lowest level possible in order to secure funding for her drug addiction.”

Judge Heather Norton told her she had a 25-year criminal record comprising 278 offences.

She said: “You have an appalling record no matter what trouble you have had in your life.

“You make the decisions to commit these offences.”

Jones, whose children were born addicted to heroin and are in care, once even stole a chocolate bar worth less than a pound from a WHSmith store – before eating the chocolate in front of shocked shop staff.

In an interview with the Kentish Gazette four years ago, she said her drug addiction was a major cause of her prolific shoplifting, but conceded she also received a buzz from stealing.

She said: “I must be a kleptomaniac as well, I just do it for the rush. I’ll nick anything. If I see it and like it, I’ll nick it. I have stolen anything I’ve felt like.

“I’ve nicked from pound shops, places where there is no chance of selling anything on to make money. I enjoy shoplifting.”