A shoplifter used himself as a decoy while members of his gang carried out an £800 ‘trolley dash’ from a supermarket.

Blackburn magistrates heard that associates of Florin Cornel Pletea loaded £800 worth of booze on to a trolley after removing security tags.

A female pushed the trolley out of the store followed by Pletea who was carrying a tag.

As security staff swooped on Pletea, the women got clean away with the haul.

But he returned to the same store a month later and this time was detained as he entered and staff discovered he was carrying a security tag.

“He is a professional shoplifter,” said Catherine Allan, prosecuting. “He has only been in the country for seven months and has already been convicted of 13 offences.”

Pletea, 36, originally from Romania but now of Porters Avenue, Dagenham, Essex, pleaded guilty to shoplifting at Asda, Accrington, and going equipped for theft with a security pin tag.

He was jailed for three months.

Miss Allan said Pletea had been served with deportation papers.