A PROLIFIC shoplifter who targeted Halesowen town centre has been sent to prison.

Justin Batley admitted 18 shop thefts when he appeared at Walsall Magistrates' Court on Friday (September 13).

The 41-year-old, of Highbury Avenue, White Heath, was sent to prison for 18 weeks.

Halesowen Police arrested Batley after they stepped up patrols in response to reports of a gang of prolific shoplifters targeting the town.

In a separate incident not involving Batley a security guard at Asda was stabbed with a needle when trying to apprehend a suspect - who escaped.

The Halesowen BID team has taken delivery of 50 walkie talkies in a bid to stop the shoplifters in their tracks, promising a 'zero tolerance' response.