Woman admits to stealing car stereos, defence claims kleptomania

The lawyer of the woman accused of stealing €3,000 worth of car stereos, claimed his client can't control the urge to steal

A lawyer defending a woman accused of having stolen more than €3,000 worth of car stereos from a shop has told a court that his client suffers from kleptomania - a medical condition which causes an uncontrollable urge to steal.

Before magistrate Elaine Mercieca, police inspector Sarah K. Zerafa charged the 28-year-old housewife from Xghajra with aggravated theft and recidivism. The repeated thefts had targeted the same Tarxien car accessory shop and had taken place over the past four months, the court was told.

The inspector explained that the police had received a report from the owner of the shop in late August, informing them that he had discovered that the same woman had been stealing car stereos from the outlet since May. The thefts hadn’t been noticed by staff, she said.

In fact, the owner had only found out about the thefts after friends had sent him links to online posts selling the stolen wares on Facebook Marketplace. After seeing the posts for himself and checking his CCTV records he confirmed that he had been robbed. 

The stolen items were worth a total of €3,074.52.

The owner had called the police when the woman had, once again, returned to his shop.  After being informed that the police were going to be called, the woman left the premises. Inspector Zerafa added that she had been arrested shortly afterwards.

The woman pleaded guilty to the charges. Defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi told the court that his client had not returned to the shop to steal, but to reimburse the owner, after he had uploaded the CCTV footage to Facebook.

“The staff decided to call the police instead, as is their right,” conceded the lawyer, adding that the woman intended to reimburse the shop for the stolen items.

Azzopardi requested that the court order the compilation of a pre-sentencing report by mental health professionals. “It will emerge that my client suffers from kleptomania. She is a mother of five and her condition has never been treated or addressed.” 

The woman had always returned the items she had stolen in previous cases, added the lawyer.  Azzopardi also asked for bail and a ban on the publication of the woman’s name, in view of her condition.

The prosecution did not object to the request for a pre-sentencing report or the ban on publication. In view of the early guilty plea and the restitution of the stolen items, no objection to either request was registered.

The woman was released on bail against a €1,000 deposit and a personal guarantee of €5,000.

In view of the absence of any objection to the request for the ban on publication of the woman’s name, the court also upheld that request.