Leigh boiler thief caught in police trap

First published in North West

A BURGLAR desperate for cash ended up in court today after falling for a police sting operation.

Stephen Pemberton went into the garden of a house looking for scrap and after spotting a central heating boiler in the unoccupied premises he smashed a window and got in.

But unknown to him the housing trust house was on loan to the police to trap burglars and when he stole the boiler he was sprayed with tell-tale Smartwater and the raid was also filmed on hidden cameras.

He made off with the boiler and copper piping, worth £800, but was recognised from the CCTV and arrested. When his clothes were examined the Smartwater was found which confirmed his identity as the burglar, said Lianne Birkett, prosecuting on Friday at Liverpool Crown Court.

When arrested 33-year-old Pemberton of Heddles Court, Leigh, said: “I bet it’s camerad up. You’ve got me bang to rights.”

He admitted smashing the window at the property in Leigh, causing £122 worth of damage and selling the stolen property for £250. He explained he had been short of cash.

Miss Birkett explained that the police had set up the trap “because of the prevalence of this type of burglary around Wigan and Leigh.”

Judge Stephen Clarke sentenced him to eight months imprisonment but suspended it for two years and placed him under supervision for 12 months.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Pemberton’s girlfriend is heavily pregnant with their first child and the judge said he was giving him a chance because of factors including this landmark event in his life.

Zillah WIlliams, defending, said that Pemberton’s life had been blighted by a heroin addiction but he is now drug free and wants to be a good father and a supportive partner.

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