How thief’s £40,000 became a mere £55

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A burglar who had escaped with timepieces worth more than £32,000 from a collector’s home in Dunchurch will have just £94 confiscated from him.

Police financial investigators believed that Dennis Traveller, who had been jailed for 21 months for the burglary, had assets worth around £40,000.

During a hearing at Warwick Crown Court in August it was said his most valuable assets were lithographic plates of works by artist Francis Bacon.

But Neil Bannister, prosecuting at that hearing, said Traveller, 57, of Hastings Close, Fleckney, Leics, disputed the £40,000 valuation put on the plates by the investigators.

“He says they would only have that value if he owned the copyright to copy and sell them, and he has been involved in litigation over a copyright claim to have that right.

“His position now is that he is to place them for auction,” said Mr Bannister, who asked for the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings to be adjourned until after the auction had taken place.

But when the lithographic plates were put into the auction it was discovered that they were not originals – and were in fact worth only £55.

And at the resumed hearing last week, prosecutor Theresa Thorp said that although Traveller’s benefit from the burglary had been £32,500, the ‘recoverable amount’ had now been agreed at a figure of just £94.

So Judge Amjad Nawaz ordered £94 to be confiscated from Traveller, who was given until the end of February next year to pay it or face seven days in prison.

When Traveller, who has served his sentence, was jailed in January last year the court heard he had taken part in a burglary at a house in Rugby Road, Dunchurch, in July 2009.

The court heard it was the home of a keen collector of vintage watches, and had clearly been specifically targeted.

Traveller and his accomplice got in by forcing a rear window and removing security bars while the owner was out, and he returned to find clocks and antiques worth £35,000 piled up by the door, which was ajar.

But although the burglars had abandoned that part of their haul, presumably because of his return, they had escaped with vintage watches valued at a total of £25,000.

They had also taken two 18th century clock movements worth £7,500 which they had carefully removed from their cases and £3,000 worth of jewellery.

Traveller was arrested after being traced through a van registered to him which was caught by a CCTV camera near the scene, and the police recovered 15 of the stolen watches, worth £15,000.