A DRUNKEN thief dressed in just a Superman bath robe threatened a supermarket security guard who tried to stop him stealing.

Local menace Steven O'Brien, 50, threatened to kill the shop employee who had confronted him for again helping himself to booze.

As well as twice taking drink from Tesco's, O'Brien also stole a woman's purse on a bus and another lady's handbag from a coffee shop.

Now O'Brien, who has more than 200 precious convictions, has been jailed for 17 months after a judge heard his drink problem may not be behind his life of crime.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the defendant was on a suspended sentence for other offences when the latest bout of crime took place.

She said on March 17 a woman on a bus in the town centre found her purse missing and the vehicle's CCTV showed O'Brien taking it.

As well as taking the £9 cash he also used her bank cards to buy pizzas, mobile phone top ups and other items on line and on the same day took a £15 crate of lager from Tesco Express.

A few weeks later, on April 27, he was again at Tesco helping himself to more beer and a bottle of sambucca.

"He was seen by security guards and confronted by them. He was rude and abusive to them," Miss Squire said.

He first swore and threatened to punch him and then when he said he would kill him the guard backed off letting him get on a nearby bus.

"It is notable that he was in the shop wearing a Superman bath robe and precious little else," Miss Squire said.

A month later a woman in the Royal Wootton Bassett branch of Costa Coffee had her handbag stolen and again CCTV showed the defendant taking it.

O'Brien, of Holinshed Place, Grange Park, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and one of causing harassment alarm or distress.

Miss Squire told the court that though he was on two suspended sentences, one was imposed after the current spate of offending.

In March he was put on a was spared jail for stealing a woman's keys from another tea shop in Royal Wootton Bassett then driving off in her car.

And in June he admitted stealing a charity shop worker's handbag and using her cards for a spending spree worth hundreds of pounds.

He also stole booze from a supermarket and a handbag from a woman in a coffee shop, but as all were before the other suspended sentence a judge could not activate it.

Among his 200 plus previous offences, spanning 37 years, Miss Squire said 91 were for theft and 35 fraud or similar matters.

Richard Williams, defending, said his client had started to respond well to supervision imposed for the earlier offences.

Jailing him, Recorder Leslie Blohm QC said: "This is the end of a long line of what are mean and petty acquisitive crimes on your part.

"The two matters of shoplifting: what marks them out is the exchange you had with the security guards.

"They are just doing their job, not to be threatened by you or anyone else in the course of their criminality.

"The only realistic sentence open to the court is to activate to some degree the sentence of imprisonment that had been imposed on you.

"The last time you were in custody was 2008 but since then you have been given many opportunities by the court to stop offending and improve your circumstances, but you have not taken them.

"You remain what I can only describe as a menace to the local population. The report makes it plain your offending is not alcohol related."