A man who carried out high-value shop thefts in Lancashire claimed he was stealing to order to pay off a drug debt.

Blackburn magistrates heard Alexander Kennedy stole clothing worth more than £4,500 from stores in Burnley, Haslingden and Preston.

Kennedy, 44, of Shap Crescent in Walkden, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to stealing clothing worth £1,350 from Flannels, Preston, on February 29, clothing worth £1,795 from Flannels, Burnley on March 5, clothing worth £985 from Winfields, Haslingden, on March 6 and clothing worth £400 from Winfields on March 16.

He was remanded on bail for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Glen Anderton, prosecuting, said Kennedy had got away with the goods on the first three thefts.

When he entered Winfields for the second time he was recognised by staff who had seen CCTV footage of the previous theft.

They tried to lock him in the shop but he barged past them and forced the doors.

“The police had already been called and they managed to block his car on the car park and arrest him,” said Mr Anderton.

“In his car, they found a foil-lined rucksack and a device for removing security tags.”

Robert Travis, defending, said his client had taken some loans from non-regulated sources at a time when he was having difficulties in his life.

“He was having difficulty keeping up the repayments and pressure was put on him to steal to clear the debt,” he added.