Misery and fear was heaped on Shrewsbury town centre's traders in spring this year during Sam Clubb's reign of terror.
The 34-year-old targeted several stores, stealing items including clothing, food and a gift set. In some cases he left a trail of smashed windows and damage in his wake, as well as nervous shop workers and perplexed business owners, who were already counting the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic before Clubb's crime spree.
But the most valuable items of all were the 14 Gucci watches he stole - each worth hundreds of pounds - after smashing the window of Goldsmith's of Shrewsbury in The Square in the early hours of April 10.
Shrewsbury Crown Court judge Anthony Lowe described that particular burglary as Clubb having "stepped up a level", and as he jailed him for 25 months, told him: "I have to protect the various businesses you keep breaking into, helping yourself to whatever you can find."
The court heard details about a number of Clubb's crimes. On March 11, a security guard at M&S in Castle Street saw Clubb acting suspiciously. He followed him out of the store and stopped Clubb, who had taken shoes and clothing items. The guard issued him with a banning letter, and told him he would be reported to the police for theft.
The guard then observed Clubb walking down Pride Hill and into Boots. He followed to alert staff that Clubb may be in the shop to steal. Clubb was apprehended with a gift set and a Yankee Candle concealed in a bag hidden in his coat. He was later taken to Shrewsbury police station where he made full admissions.
Then, at Sainsbury's in Abbey Foregate on March 25, Clubb was seen with another man stealing fresh meat and cleaning products.
His most high-value crime at the jewellers came on April 10, when he smashed a small hole in a window and took the watches. He was arrested 12 hours later, and found to have one of the watches in his possession.
While he was on bail for that offence, he targeted Caffe Figo in Wyle Cop. A person living in the flat above called police when they heard the break-in happening, and officers caught Clubb in the act, hiding behind a counter. Prosecutor Jenna Gordon told the court that £200 was taken from the till, £400 worth of damage caused and £600 lost in potential trade.
Clubb, of no fixed address, previously of Brunel Way, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to five charges – two of burglary, two of theft from a shop, and one of attempted theft from a shop.
Stephen Scully, defending, said that Clubb was "something of an enigma", and that going into custody would come as a "relief" after he found himself homeless and in the grips of addiction. He said Clubb had previously proved he was capable of holding down a job and leaving drugs behind.
Judge Lowe rejected an application from police to issue a criminal behaviour order, banning Clubb from Shrewsbury town centre, saying to do so would be "pushing it to be someone else's problem".