Singer Britney Spears has been photographed stealing a blue lighter from a gas station in California.

The Oops I Did It Again star, who is followed by paparazzi every day, had stopped at a convenience store to pick up some gum. She then picked up a blue lighter before leaving the shop and made her way to the exit without paying the $1.39 (£0.80) price for the item.

When photographers informed the Millionaire pop princess she hadn't paid for the menial product, Spears sarcastically admitted to nicking the lighter.

She said: "I stole something. Oh, I'm bad!"

The owner of the store, Jatinder Kaur, told People magazine the amount involved in the theft was too little to be reported, but said he hoped the star would pay for the item.

He said: "Yes, Britney stole a blue lighter here last night. The lighter is $1.39. I'm hoping maybe the next time she comes back she will pay for it.

"I know she can afford to pay for it, but I'm not planning to file a Police report. It's still not right for her to steal the lighter. I hope she will do the right thing the next time she comes here," he added.

Meanwhile, a photographer, Shane Partridge, has claimed he went back to the store to pay for the lighter on behalf of the celebrity. He told US magazine: "[The manager] didn't want me to pay for it at first. I told him it was no bother. I just felt like I should, you know?"

Spears is currently involved in a child custody battle with her former spouse Kevin Federline over the time each parent spends with their two boys.

10/12/2007 07:01:28