THIEVES who felt the pressures of “having to buy” Christmas presents have been fined after stealing more than £2,000 worth of perfume and watches from a department store.

A 28-year-old Popley woman, who The Gazette is not naming, and George Berne, 25, of Tadley Hill, Tadley, each pleaded guilty to one count of theft when they appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 8 January.

The court heard how on December 4, 2018, at around 11.30am, the pair were caught on CCTV in the Debenhams store, in Winchester, putting more than two dozen boxes of goods into a ‘bag for life’, which had been hung on the back of a pushchair, carrying two children.

Prosecutor Serena Edwards said: “The pair were stopped by store security and told to take the contents out, which totalled £2,013.48.

“In total they stole 29 boxes of perfume and three watches.”

Mitigating on behalf of the duo, Hita Mashru told the court that the anxiety of having to get Christmas gifts for their families had got the better of them.

Ms Mashru said: “They both describe their actions to me as foolish and stupid.

“At one point Mr Berne even looked right at the CCTV camera as he put an item into the bag.

“They didn’t have the maturity to tell their families that ‘I can’t afford to by presents, so I’m not going to’.

“Instead they did not know how to deal with the situation and that is how they are before the court.”

In sentencing, the presiding magistrates fined Berne £370 and ordered him to pay £37 victim surcharge and £40 costs.

Meanwhile, the woman was given a fine of £120 and was also ordered to pay £30 victim surcharge and £40 costs.