A woman has been charged with stealing from two Harlow shops 50 times, totalling more than £4,000, over four months.

Dawn Brooker, 39, was arrested and charged as part of police efforts to “protect shops and businesses in Essex”.

It follows the theft of products, worth an estimated £4,300, from two shops in Harlow between October and February.

As a result of an ongoing investigation, Brooker was arrested on Thursday.

Chief Inspector Paul Austin, Harlow district commander, said: “Thefts from shops have a detrimental effect on the businesses, their employers and members of the public and it’s something we take seriously.

“We will continue to work closely with our local shops and businesses to prevent shoplifting offences and investigate them thoroughly when they are reported.

“As in this case, it is apparent the reality in Essex is a substantial amount of the shop theft offences we deal with can be attributed to a far smaller number of suspects.”

Brooker, of Hertford Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, had been due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court yesterday, but the court was adjourned until May 13. She is on conditional bail.

No pleas have yet been entered into the charges.

The case continues.