Door thief is caught out by neighbours

Bolton Crown Court
Bolton Crown Court

An intruder who arranged to sell off the doors at a house where he was living has dodged a jail sentence.

Neighbours of a house under renovation had been suspicious at various visits being made to the empty property, Bolton Crown Court was told.

And when a former owner of the house walked by, and saw internal doors being loaded into a vehicle for removal, the police were called, the court heard.

Lee Jones, 42, who had been staying there, was eventually arrested for the theft and charged with burglary.

The court heard he had been allowed to stay at the house in return for paying £50 to a man he could only name as ‘Derek’.

Recorder Robert Lazarus told him he must have known, by the state of the house in Union Street, Leigh, and his reasons for being there, that he knew he could not help himself to the doors.

Jones, formerly of Leigh but now held at Doncaster Prison, had already been convicted in his absence of the burglary and committed to the crown court for sentence.

Prosecutor Roger Brown said that quite a crowd had gathered in the street, when it emerged what Jones had been doing.

He told the court that the house belonged to a firm called Pennington Properties, and it was in the process of being refurbished by contractors at the time.

Mr Brown said other items were found to be missing, but the doors represented the largest single loss.

Paul Treble, defending, said his client, after some considerable time, was now “clean of drugs” and had signed himself up for a rehabilitation course.

Jones had been deeply affected by the recent deaths of his mother and father and was now determined to beat his addictions.

Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Lazarus said Jones had exhibited a degree of pre-planning, before the burglary, by involving a friend and his landlord in stealing the doors.

But he told the court that he must treat the offence as the burglary of a non-domestic property, given the house’s condition.

Jones was sentenced to an 18-month community order, including 150 hours of unpaid work and 35 rehabilitation activity days.

He must also observe an electronically monitored curfew, between 10pm and 7am, for nine months.

The court heard there was a dispute over the value of the doors, with the prosecutors estimating them at around £200 each.

But Mr Recorder Lazarus said the magistrates had convicted Jones for a burglary totalling just £300, and he ruled this must be the figure used for sentencing.