A shoplifter has been caught after walking into a police station to complain that a ‘wanted’ poster featuring a picture of him with his face obscured contravened his human rights. He told officers that the poster had led to him losing his job and his sister being teased.
Roofer Nicholas Allegretto was filmed by CCTV cameras entering the Mackay’s hardware store in Cambridge, from which he stole an industrial magnet priced at £23.78. He fled staff after being confronted over the theft.
The shop’s owner Neil Mackay subsequently printed off posters featuring the CCTV image, with Allegretto’s face obscured, placing them in his shop in order to remind staff to be on the lookout for the man should he return, and to warn other potential thieves away.
“All our staff have been shown the image,” the poster read, adding “You know who you are. Please be aware that we will prosecute shoplifters.”
The poster was later handed to the local paper and published on Facebook in a bid to catch the shoplifter, to which Mr Allegretto objected. He was arrested and prosecuted for theft after making a complaint at his local police station.
Paul Roach, prosecuting, told the court that, during his police interview the defendant said: “I found out I was put into the papers and on Facebook regarding this matter.
“My family started to suffer as a result of this.
“My younger sister was mocked at school and my boss at the roofing company said he could not trust me and I lost my job. I’m just very unhappy being accused of something I haven’t done.”
Mr Allegretto claimed that he had intended to pay for the magnet but was stopped by staff before he could do so because of “the way I carry myself,” adding: “I just look dodgy.”
The court found him guilty of theft in his absence, with chairman of the bench Phil King stating that evidence given by shop staff was “clear, compelling and credible”. A spokesman for the court confirmed he had been fined £400 and ordered to pay legal costs totalling £620.
Following the trial, shop owner Neil Mackay told Cambridge News: “I suppose you could say he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. I didn’t really expect him to be caught so I couldn’t believe it when I heard he had rocked up at the police station and identified himself – you’ve got to laugh really.”
Allegretto failed to appear to his last two court hearings and a warrant has since been issued for his arrest, the Express has reported. He will be sentenced at a later date.