A BRAZEN Worcester shoplifter who may lose his leg limped free despite being spotted running from the scene of the crime.

Lee Brown stole hundreds of pounds of goods from FOUR different Co-ops, stole a bike and handled two more stolen bikes. The 40-year-old of Barbourne Road hobbled free at Worcester Magistrates Court on Friday. Prosecutor Shawn Williams described Brown running from the Co-op in Lichfield Avenue, Ronkswood, with shop workers unable to catch up. Mr Williams said: "He ran off out of the store, staff pursuing him before they lost sight of him."

Brown, a father-of-four, stole coffee worth £99 on April 20 last year which was never recovered. On December 30 last year he stole alcohol from the Co-op in Ombersley Road, returning on New Year's Eve to steal £110 worth of alcohol. The former scrap metal dealer also targeted the Co-op in Canada Way, Lower Wick on February 22 this year, stealing £230 of detergents with two others. He stole five bottles of vodka worth £200 from the Co-Op in Racecourse Road, Pershore on December 3 last year, cheese and deodorant to the value of £50 from the Ombersley Road Co-Op on October 22 last year and a bottle of port worth £12.50 from Northwick Filling Station in Ombersley Road on January 6 this year. The Co-Op in Ombersley Road had been targeted so many times by Brown, the prosecutor referred to it as 'luckless'.

Brown stole a bike to the value of £200 on September 7 last year and dishonestly received two other bikes, one valued at £440 and the other at £750. Mr Williams described how the £200 bike had been left secure in one of the cycle racks at Foregate Street Railway Station until Brown arrived with bolt croppers, cycling away on the bike. It was never recovered. The other two bikes were returned to their owners. Ian Paterson, defending, said his client had had problems with drug misuse for 25 years, had ulcers on his legs and 'now has sepsis'. "He says the skin is falling off his leg. He has been told he is at risk of having the lower part of his leg amputated."

Magistrates imposed an 18 month community order, a six month drug rehabilitation requirement, a thinking skills programme, 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and compensation for all the stolen goods of £795.

He must also pay costs of £135, a third of the total asked for by the Crown. This will be added to the £3,074 he already owes in outstanding fines.