Burglar who targeted Co-Op stores finally brought to heel by his striped socks

Burglar who targeted Co-Op stores finally brought to heel by his striped socks

by Henry James (January 2022)

A PROFESSIONAL burglar repeatedly targeted Co-op stores on Merseyside - and even cheekily stayed in a hotel to raid two more in North Wales.

But Michael Hall’s downfall were his distinctive striped socks which were spotted on CCTV and later found at his home.

The 33-year-old began his latest crime spree, which involved losses of more than £135,000, just two months after being released from jail.

He climbed onto the roofs of the premises - usually brazenly using a ladder - to break in and scarper with cash and goods, sometimes with an accomplice.

Judge David Swinnerton put him back behind bars for six years and rhetorically asked why he had targeted the Co-op stores, for which he was also jailed in 2014.

He imposed a ten year restraining order banning him from Co-op premises.

Hall, of no fixed address, but formerly of Mount Pleasant, Waterloo, pleaded guilty to burgling eight Co-op stores, one near his home on three occasions, and also a coffee shop, where he stole a charity box.

He was recalled on prison licence after his arrest until June 2024 but his latest sentence will begin from this month. Liverpool Crown Court heard he has 44 previous convictions for 96 offences and began his life as a burglar when he was a juvenile.

Peter Wilson, prosecuting, said that Hall was identified from CCTV footage, which on three occasions caught his distinctive socks, and from cell site evidence linked to his mobile phone.

He stole £75,000 in cash and items and repairs and extra security cost a total of £60,000.

Mr Wilson said the first offence took place on May 5 at the Co-op in Brighton Road, Waterloo, when he dropped through the roof in the early hours of the morning and stole £40,000 cash.

The next offence was at their branch in Ainsdale which he entered after using a ladder and stole cash and cigarettes worth £15,216.

On July 12 he broke into the store in Longmoor Lane, Aintree and used a crowbar to smash open cash boxes and he took more than £10,000.

The next offence involved the branch in Fylde Road, Southport, where CCTV footage caught his distinctive striped socks which were later seized at his home.

Mr Wilson said that on August 4 Hall, again wearing the same socks, got through the roof of the store in Rhyl and using a hammer and crowbar opened cash boxes and made off with £4,000 cash.

He had moved into the local Premier Inn the previous day and before checking out on May 6 he broke into the Co-op branch in Pensarn but the cash had been removed and he left after causing £2,639 worth of damage. He was again identified from his socks.

Hall returned home and on August 29 broke into the store in Brighton Road again via the roof and stole £1,530 cash, this time wearing different but still distinctive socks. A month later he returned to that branch for the third time using the same modus operandi.

“There was little money there so he put a number of packets of cigarettes down his trousers before leaving.”

His crime spree ended with a break-in at the Coffee Roast premises in Crosby where he initially tried to open the front door with a crowbar but then smashed it to get in. Mr Wilson said it was not known how much Hall took as it was in a charity box he stole.

Charles Lander, defending, said that Hall committed the offences, which took place, between May 5 and October 1 last year, to finance his long standing heroin and cocaine addiction.

Judge Swinnerton told Hall, who appeared from prison via video link: “The explanation is that you are a drug user.

“But you are living as a professional criminal because that is where you are getting your money from.”

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