A man who took part in a ‘professional’ night-time break-in at an isolated house was caught after an ANPR camera showed his car being driven in convoy with one taken in the raid.
And CCTV cameras had captured Colin Anderson later using bank cards taken from the burgled house near Princethorpe, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Anderson (aged 28) of Hewitt Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for four years after he abandoned an application at the court to be allowed to change his earlier plea of guilty to the burglary.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that in October 2016 a retired couple woke to find the front door of their large detached home in Burnthurst Lane, near Princethorpe, had been forced open.
The intruders had then opened the back door to give themselves an alternative escape route before searching the rooms downstairs.
They escaped with property including the woman’s handbag which contained cash and her bank cards, passport, driving licence and house keys.
The double garage had also been entered, and a number of items including a chainsaw, a drill and bits, a handsaw, paint, cans of petrol and an extension cable had been taken.
Also stolen from the house was the key to a blue Honda car worth £9,000 which was then taken from outside as the burglars made their get-away with their haul.
The woman’s bank cards were used at just after three in the morning to obtain foreign currency at a newsagents in Cheveral Avenue, Coventry, near to Anderson’s home.
An attempt was also made a few minutes later to get cash from a Coventry Building Society ATM machine, but the card was declined.
Investigating the burglary, Warwickshire Police officers found that an ANPR camera on the A45 at Ryton had captured the Honda going past at 2.12 that morning – clearly in convoy with a silver Renault Clio behind it.
The Clio was also seen on the CCTV of the card being used in the ATM machine – and Anderson had the keys to it when he was arrested, pointed out Mr Windridge.
His home was searched, and the police recovered the chainsaw, the drill and the extension cable, which he claimed to have bought at a car boot sale some weeks earlier.
Anderson, who had a number of previous convictions and was a ‘third strike’ burglar, originally pleaded not guilty to the burglary, later changing his plea to guilty but then applying to vacate that plea before finally accepting his part in the offence.
Omar Majid, defending, conceded: “It is obviously plain this was a deeply unpleasant offence and would have caused great anxiety to the couple who were burgled.
“But I will be seeking to persuade Your Honour to impose a sentence as close as possible to the mandatory minimum of three years. He didn’t plead guilty at the first opportunity, but it was before the day of trial.
“At the time his partner had had his first child who was six weeks old when he was arrested. He tells me that this is a completely different situation for him.
“Having been in custody since October 2016 when his child was six weeks old, and not having been involved in his child’s life for a year-and-a-half, he’s determined that after serving the sentence which will be imposed today not to appear in court again.”
Mr Majid added that while in prison Anderson has taken a mentoring course to help people who have not been in jail before.
Sentencing Anderson, Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told him: “Your failure to proceed with the application to vacate enables me to leave the credit for your guilty plea intact.
“This was a professional burglary. You did this together with another man in a planned burglary.
“You went to a detached house in the countryside, and you did it at night when there was a retired couple there. You ran the risk that you would disturb them, and all sorts of catastrophic outcomes could have followed.”