As 19-year-old Nafisa Akhtar and her friend, 18-year-old Anashra Ali stood in the dock in a Manchester, United Kingdom, courtroom they couldn’t contain their giggles while the magistrate sternly rebuked them.
According to the Daily Mail, Magistrate Suzanne O’Connell was not impressed when the two young women grinned as they confessed to charges of shoplifting from the luxury department store, Harvey Nichols.
“Do you understand the fact that you two young ladies who could do very well for yourselves but went out to a shop and stole and got a criminal record that will affect the rest of your life?”
Miss Akhtar, who allegedly has a prior criminal record for previous incidents of theft, received a targeted scolding from O’Connell. “What is your excuse? When was the last time you worked? Why haven’t you worked since?” asked the magistrate.
“What possible explanations do you have?” O’Connell then inquired of Miss Ali, who already has a caution against her name for shoplifting. The magistrate urged the accused to consider the consequences shoplifting has for stores that lose out on potential revenue.
“Do you know the effect it has on the stores and everybody in this court room? You shoplifting and taking things comes at a loss to the company and they will have to raise prices to recover that money.”
Moreover, the reportedly irate magistrate told the offenders that customers of Harvey Nichols would likely have to pay more for their purchases as a result of their actions. It could even affect members of their own families, she added.
“You’ve got no job you go to Harvey Nichols to steal,” she continued. During the reprimanding, O’Connell reminded the two young women that prison was not a place they wanted to end up.
“You may have heard that prison is easy but trust me it is not. That is your choice, you can get a grip on your life and work with probation but if you don’t then the likelihood is that you will go into custody.”
Both Miss Akhtar and Miss Ali hail from Cheetham Hill in Manchester and were allegedly drawn to the local branch of Harvey Nichols – a store regularly frequented by famous footballers and television stars – in December last year when the establishment was open much later to accommodate Christmas shoppers.
Founded in 1831, Harvey Nichols is a British department store specializing in luxury items such as coveted fashion brands, accessories, cosmetics and food and wine. Akhtar and Ali attempted to steal £380 worth of clothing and £386 worth of cosmetics.
State Prosecutor Risha Seth explained to the court that an on-duty security officer, Will Foster, witnessed the two suspects engaging in suspicious behavior in the cosmetics section of the store. Foster described the scene and recalled the two girls shielding one another so that members of the public could not see them reaching for items on the back shelves of a beauty product shelf.
According to Seth, Foster “continued to watch both of the females. One of them put cosmetic products in a bag that she was carrying. That female was identified as Nafisa Akhtar.”
Meanwhile, Miss Ali was spotted making her way to another part of the store as she selected more items to put into her bag. CCTV cameras captured all of their movements, and it was only when the two women moved towards an exist not near the check-out counters that Foster determined that they were not planning on paying for the items they had taken. Foster managed to intercept them before they left the store.
According to Miss Seth, Harvey Nichols managed to recover the stolen items and were able to return them to their stock.
Miss Akhtar had previously received a conditional discharge for stealing a whopping £1,000 worth of Apple products from a retail outlet in Sheffield, United Kingdom.
Ultimately Magistrate O’Connell ordered Akhtar to take part in a year-long community service program, as well as a total of 150 hours of unpaid work. Miss Ali received a conditional discharge after claiming that she had committed the crime as a result of peer pressure.
Outside the court, Nafisa Akhtar was captured by photographers as she punched the air defiantly before she walked away with her friend and partner in crime, Anashra Ali.