A persistent shoplifter known as the ‘Lynx thief’ due to his frequent theft of deodorants to support his solvent abuse habit has been issued a five-year prohibition from entering Leeds city centre by retailers.

Steven Betts routinely singled out establishments within the city centre to purloin deodorant cans and other aerosol products, resorting to physical aggression when confronted by store personnel.

On the 10th of July, he aimed his efforts at the Poundland store on Lands Lane, making off with 29 cans of Lynx from their display. His actions prompted store security to apprehend him after an observant shopper raised suspicion and alerted the staff.

Betts revisited the same store on three separate occasions on the 24th of July. Over time, he managed to pilfer aerosols worth £20 before trying to exit the premises. His departure was thwarted by a female staff member whom he forcefully pushed in the chest. He proceeded to throw a punch at her colleague who came to her aid, resulting in a scuffle that left the second woman with scratches on her arm and chest.

He faced a total of seven counts of shoplifting, two charges of common assault, assault against an emergency worker, and criminal damage. Aged 46 and residing at Cross Green Crescent, Cross Green, Betts confessed to these transgressions. His appearance at Leeds Magistrates Court on Friday, August 25, led to a 25-week prison sentence.

Subsequent to an application by specialist anti-social behaviour liaison officer PC Phil Underdown from Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team, magistrates additionally imposed a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order. This order stipulates that upon his release from prison, Betts is forbidden from entering the city centre.

The outlined exclusion area encompasses Inner Ring Road, Willow Terrace Road, Calverley Street, Portland Street, Great George Street, Inner Ring Road, Westgate, East Parade, King Street, Wellington Street, New Station Street, Swinegate, The Calls, Call Lane, High Court, Kirkgate, St Peters Street, and Eastgate. Exceptions are made solely for court attendance, probation obligations, solicitor consultations, appointments with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or hospital visits for personal medical treatment or to see a hospitalized relative.

Moreover, the order mandates that Betts refrain from possessing any drug paraphernalia, glue, gases, solvents, or aerosols intended for substance misuse within West Yorkshire. He is prohibited from holding any medication that hasn’t been prescribed by a licensed medical professional for his personal use, excluding over-the-counter medication, anywhere in West Yorkshire.

Should Betts contravene the terms of the order, he will commit a criminal offence and may be subject to arrest, prosecution, and the potential for further imprisonment.

Inspector Natasha Tierney, who heads the Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Betts’ prolific offending has had a very significant negative impact on staff at several city-centre businesses. Not only has he repeatedly stolen from them, but he has turned violent when challenged, causing understandable distress and upset to those involved.

“We hope this comprehensive and long-standing criminal behaviour order will be effective in addressing his behaviour on his release from prison and will also support his post-sentence supervision. We encourage the public to assist us by reporting any breaches of the order if they see him within the exclusion zone.

“We continue to work closely with retailers and our key partners, including Safer Leeds, Leeds Business Improvement District, Businesses Against Crime In Leeds and Leeds City Centre Management, to take a longer-term problem-solving approach to target other repeat offenders like Betts, and through crime prevention measures to reduce opportunities for offending.

“We recognise the impact that shop theft has on retailers, both financially and in terms of staff safety, and will keep doing everything we can to respond to their concerns.

“This latest successful action should provide some reassurance and hopefully serve as a clear deterrent to others who think they can commit such offences without having to face the consequences.”