Great Britain

Masked burglar's two-week shops crime spree

A MASKED alcoholic who burgled a pub, bakery, butchers and hairdressers during a two-week crime spree has been jailed.

Preston Crown Court heard how 36-year-old Leon Felton worked his way up to the burglaries by committing a series of thefts at off-licences and convenience stores during the spree.

Prosecuting, David Farley said that between October 18 and October 28 Felton committed eight shoplifting offences at a series of business, including Rossendale Food and Booze, the Texaco garage, Tesco, the Co-op, all in Rawtenstall, Neary’s General Store in Helmshore and the One Stop in Bacup.

Mr Farley said: “They are all very similar offences. The defendant goes in and asks for cigarettes, alcohol or food, he typically tries a card which he knows won’t work and then grabs the cigarettes, alcohol or food and runs out.

“The highest value was at Tesco on October 21 when he took five packets of cigarettes.”

The court heard that the October 30 Felton attempted to burgle Rossendale Interiors in Stacksteads.

But after smashing a window he made no attempt to steal anything and left.

However, after midnight on the same night he did successfully burgle Mannings Bakery in Waterfoot. CCTV showed the door being forced open and Felton grab £30 of food and the £100 cash float, before escaping.

On November 1 Felton broke into Rowan’s Butchers, Waterfoot, and stole a pint of milk.

Mr Farley said Felton then went on to burgle the Duke of Buccleuch while landlady Gina Ingle was asleep upstairs but ran off empty-handed when she disturbed him.

Mr Farley said: “The defendant went equipped. There are some CCTV stills prior to the Duke of Buccleuch where the defendant has got a hood on, he’s masked and he’s got gloves. At one point he leaves the public house to go and get a ladder to get in.”

The court heard how Felton also burgled Gemini Hair and Beauty in Newchurch, taking £700 and various electrical items and toiletries.

Felton, of Union Road, Rawtenstall, pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft, four burglaries and an attempted burglary.

Defending, Mark Stuart said the court would have to bear in mind the principle of totality when passing sentence and said Felton had been on remand for six months, which had been particularly difficult since March as coronavirus lockdown measures meant he was spending 23-and-a-half hours in his cell.

He said during that time his client had been alcohol-free and it was hoped he would become offence-free on his release from custody.

Mr Stuart said: “The defendant has a problem with drink. It is not without significance that the things he’s taking or getting from the thefts by in large are cigarettes and alcohol.”

Jailing Felton for 19 months, Judge Simon Newell said: “The aggravating feature of all these offences if I take them as a job lot is the persistency of offending, the regularity of offending and the damage you must have caused the commercial premises in the area over that two-week period.

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