‘Feral’ crowbar-wielding Leeds thief stole perfume worth £28,000 during two-week blitz of Boots stores

Gilroy hit Boots stores around West Yorkshire including Kirkstall (top), Guiseley (middle) and Otley (bottom). Pics by WYP / Google Maps

Gilroy hit Boots stores around West Yorkshire including Kirkstall (top), Guiseley (middle) and Otley (bottom). Pics by WYP / Google Maps

James Gilroy hit stores in Kirkstall, Guiseley, Otley, Thorpe Park and Birstall 12 times throughout October, often wearing a balaclava and smashing open cabinets to grab the boxes of scents.

He was jailed for three years at Leeds Crown Court this week, having been finally arrested after a car chase with police.

Judge Ray Singh described it as “wanton and feral behaviour” adding: “These were bold and brazen offences of theft. These are really serious offences, you really did not care less who got in your way. The general public is sick to the back teeth with individuals like you who think they can take items that simply don’t belong to you.”

Prosecutor Andrea Parnham said 28-year-old Gilroy’s spree began on October 2 at Boots in Kirkstall, in which he stole £270 worth of items. But his offending escalated as he hit the store again, along with the other Boots on October 3,4,5,10, 11, 16 and 17, sometimes targeting two a day.

Armed with the crowbar and hammer, he was often accompanied by others and would prise open the glass cabinets. They got away with varying amounts from £2,735 up to £6,396.

He also stole more than £1,000 of goods from a Co-op on Stainbeck Lane, Leeds, and a Sainsbury’s in Ripon. His blue Ford Fiesta was spotted after his final Boots theft on October 17, and police pursued him.

He ran red lights, turned off his lights and drove at twice the speed limit as he made dangerous overtaking manoeuvres in a bid to get away.

He eventually lost control as he tried to drive over a grass verge and found himself blocked in. He was quickly apprehended. Gilroy, of Fearnville Road, Roundhay, eventually admitted 13 counts of theft, eight of going equipped for theft, criminal damage, theft from a person, dangerous driving, driving without a licence and insurance.

Mitigating, Nicholas Hammond said Gilroy had suffered a relationship break-up and found himself homeless. He said: “He had very little money and was effectively stealing to survive, spending money on hotels. It’s not an excuse, he acknowledges that. He did it out of desperation.

“He wants to put his life back on track, it’s not too late for him at his age.

He said that Gilroy pleaded guilty at an early opportunity, and even admitted offences that officers had not linked to him, simply because he wanted to “wipe the slate clean”.

But Judge Singh was sceptical about his homeless story, particularly as he has 12 previous convictions for 19 offences, including robbery and shop theft.

He told him: “You were off the rails and had nowhere to live, going out stealing to survive. I’m afraid I’m not persuaded that is your position. You have convictions for robbery so I’m not prepared to accept that.”

On top of the jail sentence, he also banned Gilroy from driving.

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