The Times website has today reported on the case of a moped riding mobile phone thief.
This 23 year old male approached his victim from behind on his moped, snatched the phone and rode off. The victim and other passers by gave chase and having managed to keep him in sight, caught him when he crashed the moped.
When they reached him, he threatened them with a knife and spat at them as they were restraining him to await the police.
After pleading guilty to stealing the phone; assaulting Patrick Mascott and riding a moped while disqualified and without insurance on April 6 sentence was passed.
The sentence consisted of 26 weeks for the theft, plus 16 weeks for the assault and for driving while disqualified, to run concurrently. He was fined £500 for having no insurance and ordered to pay compensation and costs.
This seems all well and good until you find out that this particular thief has 50 previous convictions and was on licence from his latest sentence. How many times does a criminal have to be caught and found guilty before something is done that has an effect? It seems having 50 previous convictions and being out on licence are no deterrent whatsoever nowadays.
This sentence probably means less than 13 weeks in prison and probably nothing else. Who amongst us would believe with his record that he is going to pay a fine, compensation and costs?
Our police forces are being stretched ever thinner and even when they catch someone committing a crime, very often this is meaningless. It seems such a waste for the police to make such efforts to catch criminals only for them to receive such a lenient sentence. It is surely not cost effective as they catch the same criminals week after week?
Sentencing needs to change to have a deterring effect on those who commit crimes. Whether that crime is theft, tax avoidance or violence. A toothless judiciary is no deterrent to anyone.