THREE burglars have pleaded guilty to their part in a £20,000 jewellery heist at a store in the Market Place shopping centre.

Marlon Fitzgerald and Joseph Vandersteen changed their pleas to guilty at a hearing at Bolton Crown Court yesterday (THUR).

Both had initially denied the raid at Lauren Ashley Jewellers on January 10, last year and they were due to stand trial for the burglary on June 16.

On June 9, a third defendant, Aaron Goodman, aged 25, of Strawberry Road, Salford, also changed his plea to guilty in relation to the jewellery theft.

Owner Lauren Carter-Bridges said wedding rings and diamond rings were among the haul taken — but added the perpetrators of the “daft” burglary were always going to be caught.

The court heard how Fitzgerald, aged 25, of no fixed abode, is currently serving a four-and-a-half year prison sentence and did not need a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Goodman and Vandersteen, aged 24, of Mulbery Court, Salford, have previously pleaded guilty to a second count of burglary in connection with a break-in at The Eagle Bistro at the University of Bolton between November 20 and November 21, 2012.

All three are now due to be sentenced on June 16 and are remanded in custody until then.

The jewellery theft took place when the free-standing store was closed, according to police.

One of the burglars kicked a wooden hatch to gain entry to the store before beckoning accomplices in.

Police say the burglars took numerous items of jewellery from two display cabinets before fleeing.

Owner Lauren Carter-Bridges said: “It’s a daft thing to do, in the middle of a shopping centre that has got cameras everywhere.

“There were other shops still open.

“There was no way they were going to get away with it.

“It is great that they were caught, it’s the second unfortunate incident that we have had and both times they were caught.”

In March, 2011, two rings, together worth £42,000, were stolen from the store while it was open.

In July that year, Liam Harbour, then aged 25, of Rawcliffe Avenue, Breightmet, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.