TWO men who stole more than £2,500 of alcohol and food from a Chester city centre supermarket have been jailed.

Ionut Dumitru Marcu, 19 and Petrica-Dan Velicu, 25, pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates Court on Thursday, November 14 to two counts of shoplifting at Tesco in Frodsham Street.

The pair were accompanied by two other unidentified men for the first offence on November 4, when £2,500 of items were stolen, and were caught when the duo stole a further £83.21 of items from the same store on November 12.

Magistrates jailed the pair, who the court heard had given an address of Barff Road, Salford, for 12 weeks.

Prosecuting, Alan Currums said Marcu was seen taking items from Tesco on three occasions on November 4.

The first time he was seen putting items in a basket, the second he was seen putting numerous bottles of alcohol into a trolley, before covering them with towels.

The third time he placed two large bags in in the trolley and again stole bottles of alcohol.

It was accepted that while accomplice Velicu had not directly stolen any items, he was present as a lookout in the foyer and, from the police's point of view, very much part of the theft.

The two men returned to the store on November 12 and, after trying to steal £83.21 of items, abandoned the trolley outside the store and were arrested.

In police interview, Marcu said he had been in the UK from Romania for about two months and had stolen the £83.21 of items "because he was hungry".

He had no money and had every intention to steal, and did not wish to see the CCTV footage of the theft.

Velicu had been in the UK from Romania for about a week and had come to Chester from Manchester as his friend might have had a job for him.

He also accepted he had taken the food "because he was hungry".

Both defendants had become vague when talking to police about the shoplifting on November 4 but had entered guilty pleas in court.

Marcu was of previous good character while Velicu had one previous conviction imposed by Suffolk magistrates in April this year.

Defending, Tony Birchall did not request a pre-sentence report and suggested any custodial sentences should be suspended.

Community orders were not appropriate as neither man had settled in the UK, and neither had applied for any benefits.

The address given to the court was one which existed but had not yet been verified as where the defendants were living.

Magistrates chose not to impose compensation or any costs to the two defendants, but chair of magistrates Alan Davies said he found "no reason whatsoever" to suspend the 12-week prison sentence.