A burglar who targeted homes in a Lincolnshire retirement village has been jailed for over three years.
Stephen Keating, who had lost his job due to COVID-19, travelled 100 miles from his home in Birmingham to raid properties at The Elms development at Torksey near Lincoln.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that Keating, who has been jailed six times previously for house burglaries, broke into the properties between 11.45pm and 4.30am on the same night in October this year.
“This was night-time targeting of a caravan park that was a retirement village for over 50s.
“The defendant wore gloves to ensure he did not leave any fingerprints.
“These premises were 100 miles and a two-hour journey from his home address in the West Midlands.”
Mr Howes said that Keating carried out untidy searches of the three properties that he burgled.
Keating left the first caravan in Birch Grove without stealing anything but went on to take items worth £4,500 after entering properties in Lindum Way and Alpine Crescent. The occupants of the properties were all away from home at the time of the raids.
Mr Howes said that Keating later returned some of the stolen property via a third party.
Keating, 52, of Frances Road, Bournville, Birmingham, admitted two charges of burglary and a further charge of burglary with intent to steal as a result of the incidents on the night of October 4 and 5 this year.
He was jailed for three years and four months.
Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told him: “You have been a prolific burglar and you have 11 previous convictions for dwelling house burglary.
“These offences are significantly and seriously aggravated by your previous convictions.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, in mitigation, said that Keating had stayed out of trouble for the last four years and had been working as a crane operator.
“He was working hard at that until the COVID-19 lockdown came in the spring. As a result the job was lost to him and he was having to find other ways of getting money. He had no income but he had rent, bills and credit cards to pay.”
Mr Cranmer-Brown said that Keating went to Torksey to carry out work on a friend’s caravan but then fell back into his old ways.
“The last thing he would want to do is to attack elderly people’s properties. He didn’t know that was the situation on this site.”
Keating himself told the court he was ashamed of what he did. He said: “I wish I could turn the clock back. I’m deeply sorrowful. I’m just disgusted at what I’ve done. I genuinely mean that.”
PC Donnah Thompson, who led the investigation, said: “This was a significant sentence which reinforces our message that we will investigate burglaries robustly and bring offenders to justice.
“We have also returned a significant amount of sentimental property to the victims, which hopefully will have brought some comfort after such an upsetting incident.
“I also want to pay tribute to the member of the public who contacted us to report a vehicle acting suspiciously in the area. Their information helped us to arrest Keating and, ultimately, secure a conviction.”