A prolific shop-lifter has appeared before magistrates in Blackburn after recording his 500th offence, making him one of the most convicted men in history, reports The Bolton News.
Harry Hankinson, 64, appeared before magistrates in Blackburn charged with theft after stealing £295-worth of perfume from a branch of Boots.
Incredibly the court heard that this was Mr Hankinson's 500th offence, which is believed to make him one of the most convicted criminals in UK legal history in a criminal career spanning 45 years.
Offences on his lengthy charge list include 416 thefts, 28 police, court or prison offences, seven for violence, three for drugs and four sexual offences. He has also committed 35 miscellaneous offences.
The court heard how Mr Hankinson used his years of experience to secure the shockingly high-value theft from Boots: he asked the counter staff to point out their most valuable sellers, before proceeding to steal them.
Mr Hankinson was already on bail pending sentencing for other shoplifting offences.
Counsel for the prosecution explained to the court that Mr Hankinson had left court just minutes before committing these latest thefts.
"Literally within minutes of being bailed, he went straight into the shopping centre and committed these further offences," said Catherine Allen for the prosecution.
It is unlikely that Mr Hankinson is the UK's most prolific offender, however. Last year the details of a string of career criminals were released by the Ministry of Justice. The data revealed that the most convicted man had 567 convictions, mostly for being drunk and disorderly.
Other serial offenders include David Walker, a homeless man described by police as a 'disagreeable nuisance'. He had clocked up 422 convictions and 82 prison sentences over a 40-year period before he died in prison in 2006.
Bradley Wernham was another criminal with a shocking backstory. He went on a one-man 'crimewave' in 2010, appearing in court facing 17 charges for theft. His lawyers asked for a further 645 offences he admitted carrying out to be taken into consideration at sentencing.
Shoplifter in court for 500th offence (The Bolton News)