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Serial burglar caught within hours of latest sneak break-in, at house in Durham
A FAMILY was unaware their home had been burgled until police called with items recovered from the intruder, a court was told.
David Malcolm Preston sneaked into the house in Pity Me, Durham, late on July 4, taking a number of items, including two lap-top computers, a handbag containing £110 and a bottle of 5p coins.
Durham Crown Court heard that a night porter at the hostel where Preston was living at the time, in Plawsworth, near Chester-le-Street, became suspicious when he was asked to change a number of 5p coins after letting him into the premises, at midnight.
Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said the porter also noted two lap-top computers in Preston’s back pack.
Police were informed and on arrival at the hostel most of the items taken by Preston were recovered, including a document bearing a name and address of a property in Pity Me.
Officers went to the address at 2.15am and woke up the residents, who were not aware their home had been burgled, as they were in all evening.
Miss Lamballe said Preston offered “a wholly implausible” explanation that he found the stolen items discarded at a bus stop, after leaving a hospital where he had been visiting his girlfriend.
But his account was seen through as other police officers had “stop checked” him at 9pm, when he claimed to have been at the hospital.
Miss Lamballe added that the crime had distressed the victim family, who were upset that someone had entered their property at night while they were at home.
Preston, 39, who has been in custody since his arrest, admitted burglary, his fifth such conviction for breaking into houses.
He was released on licence in January from his previous 42-month sentence for burglary, after which he lived at the hostel.
Stephen Thornton, for Preston, said: “He has quite a considerable record for burglary and the fact is, he’s realistic as to the outcome today.”
Jailing him for three years and nine months, Judge Christopher Prince said other than a period between 2002 and 2006, Preston has frequently returned to breaking into people’s homes, meriting ever longer sentences.