Se­rial bur­glar traced by app on lap­top

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page - JON MACPHER­SON jon.macpher­son@men-news.co.uk @JonMacMEN

A PRO­LIFIC bur­glar who stole elec­tri­cal equip­ment and jew­ellery from a house was tracked down by the preg­nant vic­tim thanks to an app on a lap­top he stole, a court heard.

Thomas O’Neill broke into a prop­erty on Lane­side Road in Hasling­den and swiped an Xbox con­sole, Ap­ple Macbook, jew­ellery and a holdall. The vic­tim, who was 31 weeks preg­nant, re­turned home to find in­ter­nal doors and win­dows open and ac­ti­vated the ‘soft­ware locator’ to trace the stolen Macbook.

Pros­e­cu­tor Mercedes Jab­bari told Burn­ley Crown Court O’Neill had al­ready ar­ranged to sell the elec­tri­cal equip­ment for £120.

O’Neill, 43, com­mit­ted the bur­glary shortly af­ter 4pm on March 23 and by 5pm had made a deal to sell the items. Ms Jab­bari said O’Neill re­ceived £100 in cash and was owed £20.

The court heard how the buyer took the lap­top home and the ‘soft­ware locator’ app traced it to his ad­dress.

Po­lice found him at home in the early hours of March 24 and he told of­fi­cers how O’Neill was due to re­turn to his work­place to pick up the £20.

Ms Jab­bari said O’Neill ar­rived at the of­fice at around 5pm and when po­lice ar­rived ‘jumped up and ran into the back look­ing for another exit’. Another worker in the of­fice grabbed hold of O’Neill and told him he ‘wasn’t go­ing any­where’.

When O’Neill was ar­rested his train­ers foren­si­cally matched foot­prints left at the house.

O’Neill, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to bur­glary and was jailed for 12 months. The court heard how the de­fen­dant has 54 pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for 174 of­fences in­clud­ing 10 bur­glar­ies and 40 thefts.

Char­lotte John­son, de­fend­ing, said O’Neill had a ‘poor criminal his­tory’ and did not re­quest a pre­sen­tence re­port.

She told the court that it was an ‘op­por­tunis­tic bur- glary’ and there was ‘no soil­ing or ran­sack­ing’.

Miss John­son said the de­fen­dant’s mother passed away in June 2017 and when his fa­ther died in Jan­uary 2018 it was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.

The court heard how he re­lapsed into drug and al­co­hol mis­use and com­mit­ted the bur­glary to ‘fund his own habit’.

Miss John­son said O’Neill was ‘dis­gusted with him­self and apol­o­gises’.

●● Thomas O’Neill was jailed for 12 months

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