Jayne Rand jailed for stealing 905 handbags

Jayne Rand jailed for stealing 905 handbags


A lesser man than me would make some sort of sexist joke about women and handbags, but it’s a sad tale for Jayne Rand, a 48 year old of good character (she’d never been in trouble with the police before) who was sentenced to 18 months on 18th October 2013.

Over a period of about three years Ms Rand, noticing the price that designer handbags could attract on ebay, stole 905 handbags from various stores all over the country. There were not particularly sophisticated thefts – Ms Rand simply walked into a shop without a bag, picked one up, and walked around for a while before leaving with it. Sometimes there was a tag that needed to be removed, but not always.

The total value of the stock taken was about £130,000 (about £140 per bag), but hey would obviously have been sold for more than that. When working out which figure is the basis on which the ‘loss’ would have been calculated, it would normally be the ‘retail’ value. Whilst we do not have the sentencing remarks, it would appear that the Judge may have taken the wholesale value, in fairness to Ms Rand.

Although the thefts themselves were not particularly sophisticated, the Judge commented that the fact that she got away with it for such a long period of time was quite surprising, and displayed an element of professionalism.

Further, Ms Rand had effectively set up a part-time business selling them on ebay, which netted her about £88,000 (which may well be the subject of confiscation proceedings in due course). More significantly, it seems that she moved to ‘stealing to order’ certain bag, which is another aggravating features.

So, what of the sentence? The Theft from a Shop guidelines (page 16) are the starting point. It seems that the Judge must have felt that the case was so unusual as to be outside the guidelines (also, it appears that there may have been other charges relating to Money Laundering – the selling of the handbags).

As Ms Rand was acting on her own, even allowing for there being a ‘very high degree of planning‘, the starting point is 6 weeks custody (with a range of a Community Order up to 36 weeks custody).

Allowing for a plea of guilty (it seems that this was a case where there was an early one), the starting point of the Judge would have been 2 years and 3 months.

We can expect an appeal in this case. It seems to me that, notwithstanding the high planning and the fact of selling on the handbags makes the case a lot more serious than that suggested by the guidelines, this sentence is still too high given everything.

Whilst appeals are not often successful, particularly in cases that attract lots of media attention, it would not surprise me if the sentence was reduced to perhaps 12 months.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. 905 handbags – like wow that’s nearly enough for a different bag every day of the week for nearly three years. Why would anyone want to sell them on? Enjoy and when the police come knocking they can scoop them all up and return them to their rightful owners no harm done. Could one plead provocation or diminished responsibility. Maybe point out the public services I’d provided by showing retailers how they’d left their front door wide open to theives. I could get that sentence down to a conditional discharge.

  2. If memory serves dim. resp. only applies to reduce murder to manslaughter. Provocation? No, I don’t think so.

    You could not get that down to a c.d. and neither could anybody else but it would be fun to hear you trying!

  3. Oh, and how would you feel about a man similarly stealing 905 [scratches head while thinking about a mainly-male item] [finds one] cigar-cases?

    • How would I feel about a man doing something similar probably more indifferent because it didn’t involve handbags however I’d be happy to plead his case for leniency.

      • My fault for indulging in stereotypes. Of course I should have said with a passion for handbags. But there we are, I think you’ve answered my question!

  4. A sentence of up to 7 years is available in the Crown Court for this offence, she did actually steal on anything up to 905 separate occasions (which may for all I know have been charged as one specimen count and 904 TICs!).

    Whilst the fact that she didn’t usually apparently cut the labels off was taken (it seems) as evidence of a lack of sophistication, one could equally validly argue that this was an entirely deliberate decision to maximise the re-sell value of these goods, which always fetch significantly more when sold “brand new with tags”. The planning involved in going to all these stores, and in “marketing” the stolen bags on eBay was very considerable, even if inept, and this, taken together with the huge number of offences (one does not dodge the eagle eyes of store security staff nearly a thousand times without ever once previously getting caught without pretty consummate guile, if not real skill, and obviously an awful lot of practice!) and the very high total value can – in my opinion – quite legitimately have placed the judge outside the guideline range for a single such offence, and led to what I can well see being found on appeal to have been an entirely appropriate level of sentence.

    • Store security were bleary eye on at least 904 previous occasions. When she gets out I think she should apply to run an investment bank they stole from right under our noses and never went to jail.