A “professional” burglar who stole jewellery and family heirlooms from his traumatised victims has been jailed for more than four years.
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Christopher Waite, 45, from Harrogate, broke into two homes in Thirsk on the same day, rifling through drawers, cupboards and jewellery boxes, York Crown Court heard.
Waite had travelled to Thirsk on November 23 last year, looking for rich pickings at large detached properties, including a five-bedroom dormer bungalow.
In the first burglary, the owners had just left to pick up their children from school when Waite smashed a patio door to break into their home in the village of Carlton Miniott, where he ransacked rooms and stole several pieces of jewellery including a silver necklace, a child’s bracelet and family heirlooms including a leather-strap watch, which were said to be of deep sentimental value.
All the items were eventually recovered but others, including a small jewellery charm and a pair of cufflinks, were not.
Prosecutor Paul Nicholson said that when the victims returned home, they found smashed glass on the floor and an opened jewellery box in a downstairs room.
“In the (master) bedroom it was a mess,” added the barrister. “There were clothes all over the bedroom floor, pieces of jewellery on the floor and on the bed.”
Later that afternoon, Waite broke into another property in the same village. On this occasion he left empty-handed but caused £200 of damage to a double-glazed door.
Police were on the scene at about 4.40pm but Waite had already fled. They caught him during the getaway and found some of the stolen jewellery which Waite had hidden in some bushes. On searching Waite, they found a large screwdriver which he had taken with him to the break-ins.
It was suspected that Waite had been driven to Thirsk by a second man in a car with a false number plate. A suspicious vehicle was found on Ripon Road, but the driver was never charged with any offence.
Waite - lately of Harrogate and formerly of Gipton, near Leeds - was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary. He admitted the offences and appeared for sentence on Monday.
With his long criminal record - 20 previous convictions for 63 offences, stretching back nearly 30 years - Waite knew he was staring at another lengthy jail sentence.
His track record included 13 previous burglary convictions and 40 theft offences. He had served no fewer than six prison sentences since 1993. He was only released from his last jail sentence for burglary in April last year.
Defence barrister James Littlehales said Waite had stolen to fund his heroin addiction following a traumatic childhood spent in the care system.
In the past, Waite had committed burglaries just weeks, “or even days”, after being released from prison for previous offences.
Recorder Bryan Cox QC told Waite: “You have… a long history of committing offences of burglary and you can properly be characterised as a professional burglar.
“It’s plain that (on this occasion) you have travelled to villages in (North Yorkshire) seeking out suitable locations to burgle.”
Jailing Waite for four years and eight months, Mr Cox QC told the defendant that the fist raid on the property in Carlton Miniott had had a “traumatic effect on the entire family, including two children who were left with a sense of considerable insecurity thereafter”.