A thief has been jailed for stealing handbags from unsuspecting shoppers in the High Street.

Rafael Bernardino Carrasco Pino preyed on shoppers in pubs and cafés in Sutton town centre by approaching them while they were unaware and dropping his jacket on their handbag before scooping up both the jacket and bag and leaving.

But now the 44-year-old Northamptonshire man has been imprisoned for 24 weeks after he was caught with some of the stolen property.

Carrasco Pino performed the trick on a pensioner in The Grapes pub in High Street on November 23. The same day he tried to take a mobile phone from a woman in Starbucks by draping his scarf and jacket over the back of a child's pushchair, where it had been left. In that occasion he knocked the pushchair over and left empty handed.

He went on to use the trick to take a bag containing more than £250 from a punter in the Sutton Arms on December 6.

Later that day Carrasco Pino was about to leave Sutton on the train when PC Dave Earl spotted him. He was searched and caught with more than £300.

Carrasco Pino, of Lincoln Way in Corby, admitted two counts of theft and one of attempted theft in front of Croydon magistrates on Tuesday, December 11. he was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail and will have to pay back £300 to his victims.

PC Earl was working as part of Operation Holly, an initiative to combat crime and keep the streets safe over the festive period, with officers working in plain clothes as well as uniform patrols.