AN ALCOHOLIC who entered a convenience store armed with a hammer was caught after members of the public identified him in a CCTV media appeal.
Rodney Loveridge, of Hermitage Lane in Greenfield, near Flitwick, targeted Bridge End Stores in Earith on the evening of August 8 last year.
The 39-year-old visited the small convenience store, which is also a post office, at 8.41pm, Cambridge Crown Court heard.
At the time there was only one member of staff working.
Loveridge approached the store counter with a small hammer in his right hand.
He began waving the hammer at the shop worker, who had already noticed the hammer in his hand but was behind the counter.
He told the worker he wanted some cigarettes but instead of getting them, she went into the staff office behind a stronger security door.
The woman stayed in the back office and attempted to call for help, but then saw Loveridge approach the door to the counter where the alcohol was displayed.
Believing he would try to come through the security door where she was, the woman grabbed a bat to defend herself with and came back into the shop.
Loveridge attempted to grab alcohol from behind the till, but the woman shouted at him and urged him to stop.
He ignored her and continued picking up bottles of alcohol, but the woman hit Loveridge on the arm with the bat in a bid to get him to leave the store.
Shortly after this Loveridge left the shop holding several small bottles of alcohol. The woman followed a short while later to see where he had gone, and spotted Loveridge getting into the back of a white car.
CCTV of the incident was obtained from the store and Loveridge was identified after officers released the images of him as part of a media appeal.
In police interview Loveridge said he didn’t remember committing the offence as he had been drinking whiskey, but admitted it was him in the footage.
He told officers he stole the drink from the store because he was an alcoholic.
Loveridge said 10 minutes before going into the store he had been hitchhiking from his house and had got lifts from ‘various drivers’ before ending up in Earith.
He told officers he didn’t remember owning a hammer and must have got a lift away from the store by a stranger.
Loveridge said he felt ‘terrible’ about his actions and admitted he wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t been drinking.
He previously pleaded guilty to theft at Cambridge Crown Court. At the same court yesterday (Wednesday, 30 January) he also pleaded guilty to affray.
He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and handed 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
DC Jennifer Park, who investigated, said: “Despite drinking beforehand, Loveridge thought nothing of going into the shop armed, terrifying a staff member in the process, and stealing the bottles of alcohol.
“The shop worker involved in this incident should be publically thanked for her bravery which eventually led to Loveridge leaving the store.
“Loveridge was identified after a CCTV media appeal and we’d like to thank the members of the public who helped us identify him and secure this conviction.”