TWO prolific shoplifting sisters have been banned from entering major shops across East Lancashire.

The siblings have been given ASBOs that also ban them from Blackburn town centre in a bid to tackle their offending.

Police said the news was a ‘nice Christmas present for traders’ to protect them from the women, described as ‘professional shoplifters’.

Khalida Ahmed, 36, of Rawsthorne Street, and Nazia Haq, 32, of Saunders Road, both Blackburn, are banned from entering the town centre and Townsmoor retail park.

Ahmed, described as the more prolific shoplifter, is also banned from Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Farmfoods, Iceland, Boots, Argos, M and S, Next, Matalan, Primark, TK Max, Mothercare, B&M Bargains, Debenhams, Claire’s Accessories, Accessorize, Toys ‘R’ Us and Smyths Toys in Blackburn, Darwen, Ribble Valley, Accrington and Burnley.

They have been told that because of the ASBO they could be sent to prison if they even set foot in one of the stores.

Sgt David Clarke said the orders would be extended if the sisters began ‘plying their trade’ further afield.

He said: “At the moment we hope it will be a nice Christmas present for the shopkeepers of Blackburn and the rest of East Lancashire from Lancashire Constabulary.

“These women, especially Khalida Ahmed, are prolific shoplifters and we hope these orders can dramatically reduce their offending.”

The orders will run for two years.

Carl Gaffney, prosecuting, said the defendants were aware that if there were further offences in other towns, such as Bolton or Preston, the police would seek to have the ASBO extended to cover those towns.

He said: “The ASBO is not a paper tiger, it is a court order.

“I say for their benefit that they will be ripe for custodial sentences if they breach these orders.

“This is very much a last chance saloon for them.”

Scott Parker, defending, said his clients had been remanded in custody for eight days during the latest proceedings and this had acted as a wake-up call.

At court Ahmed and Haq pleaded guilty to theft of property from Matalan in Blackburn.

Ahmed also pleaded guilty to thefts from Farm Foods and Argos.

She was given a conditional discharge for 24 months and Haq a conditional discharge for 12 months.

They were both ordered to pay £100 compensation to Matalan.

A third sister, Rizwana Ahmed, 33, of Saunders Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to theft from Matalan.

She was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £100 compensation and £100 costs.

Mr Gaffney said she only had one previous conviction and had effectively found herself in ‘rum company’.

He said: “The other two are professional shoplifters as far as the prosecution are concerned.”

Mr Parker said Rizwana had learned from her involvement in the prosecution of her sisters.

Speaking after the court case Jonathan Taylor, a partner at Farleys Solicitors, which has offices in Blackburn, Burnley, Accrington and Manchester, said the ASBO was an alternative to prison to deter them from re-offending.

He said: “For a shoplifting offence the sentencing options open to a judge would not justify a custodial sentence.

“In this case the offenders were what a court may consider to be professional shoplifters and that is a situation that would lead to an ASBO of that nature.

“Because of that they are excluded from the necessary shops and the benefit of that is that if they breach that order, they can receive a custodial sentence at a later stage.

“Even if they just walked into one of the shops, it would be a serious offence.

“From that time onwards, the individuals have to be extremely careful and if they breach it they could be sent to prison by a crown court for up to five years.