A woman’s three-year crime wave has been brought to an end, as she now faces jail after stealing more than 900 handbags worth in excess of £500,000.
Jayne Rand, 48, was convicted of stealing 905 handbags and four purses at Newport Crown Court today, and warned by the judge that she will spend time in prison.
The court heard she would walk into shops without a handbag, remove the security tag from one that took her fancy, then brazenly walk out with the item over her shoulder.
Rand, a mother of two, stole luxury bags of the most expensive makes – including Prada, Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton – and sold most of them on to make money. Some of the bags routinely sell for more than £1,000.
The woman – whom police believe is Britain’s biggest bag thief – was finally caught red-handed last December by security guards at a shopping centre in Cwmbran, South Wales.
Police found two other handbags in her car that day and ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the other thefts.
The jury heard that the stock taken in the nationwide campaign of thefts would have cost stores more than £130,000.
But because the mark-up on designer bags is so large the shops themselves would have taken closer to £500,000 had they sold them all.
Prosecutor David Wooler said: ‘A financial investigation had been looking into the case for some time.
‘It is estimated that the value of all the theft would be in excess of £130,000 but that does not take into account the shop’s mark-up.’
By selling the bags on at a drastically reduced price, Rang was able to make more than £80,000 between 2009 and 2012, and admitted converting criminal assets from 838 of the handbags.
Judge Rhys Rowlands told the court: ‘The defendant was only caught because people in Cwmbran happen to be quite diligent.
‘She was caught red-handed with a handbag and in her car were two handbags stolen earlier that day. The evidence is overwhelming.
‘This lady has pleaded guilty to a campaign of shoplifting. For all intents and purposes she has carried out a business, and we are talking about tens of thousands of pounds.
‘It will be a custodial sentence of some length.’
Andrew Taylor, defending, said Rand was a woman of previous good character.
Rand was released on conditional bail and is expected to be sentenced in October.