BUNGLING burglar Max Leach was seen by a neighbour as he returned to the same house for a third time to retrieve his phone which he had left behind.
And when Leach, who was on bail for handling a stolen motor home, called his number to try to locate it, the phone was answered by his victim who had taken it to hand to the police.
Leach, 42, of Auckland Drive, Smiths Wood, Solihull, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of burglary, theft and handling stolen goods.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that in October last year a woman left her motorhome on the beachfront at Weston-Super-Mare while she watched her sons compete in a motorcycle event.
When she returned to where she had left it, another vehicle was parked in the spot.
She reported the theft, and at just before 11.30 that night police officers saw the motorhome being driven along the A446 away from junction 4 of the M6.
A check revealed it was on false number plates, so they followed it towards Water Orton, and there was a short pursuit as Leach accelerated before being stopped and arrested.
He told officers he had seen a friend in a shop in Chelmsley Wood who had said he wanted a van moving from Devon and had taken him there and given him the key and money for petrol.
Strangely, the woman still had the key, and Mr Simpson said it had possibly been taken using a cloned key.
Leach, who had 34 previous convictions for dishonesty going back to when he was a youth, was granted bail.
Then in July this year he carried out three burglaries – all at the same address in Wyckham Road, Castle Bromwich.
His victim, who knew Leach, returned home at two in the morning on July 29 to see a light on inside, and when he went in he found the rear door had been forced.
Cameras and high value lenses had been taken, together with his motorcycle jacket and helmet – and his powerful Honda Fireblade motorbike had been stolen.
The bike was fitted with a tracker, and it was traced to a garage in Sheldon.
After reporting the burglary and speaking to the police, the victim and his family left the house at 8am – and when they returned that evening they discovered they had been burgled again.
A large amount of property had been taken, including four camera lenses, three watches, an i-Pad, a wedding ring and other jewellery, by intruders who had got in using a key taken during the first break-in.
As he was checking around the house, the owner came across a mobile phone which did not belong to him, which he took with him after reporting the burglary.
Two hours later he received a call from a neighbour who could see people in his home – and at that moment the phone began to ring as the intruders called the number to try to locate it.
Two days later Leach, who had been captured by a camera outside the house, went into the CeX shop in Solihull and tried to sell the four lenses, but staff were suspicious, and a police officer recognised Leach from the store’s CCTV, said Mr Simpson.
Richard Davenport, defending, said that at the time Leach had managed to come off heroin but was still taking crack cocaine, but since being remanded in custody had been attended the prison equivalent of Narcotics Anonymous.
Jailing Leach, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You are here most seriously because of the burglaries in July this year. You know how serious burglaries are, because you have been in court before for burglary.
“You have a lot of offending in your past, but had managed to stay away from it for six years, so you know you can.
“It is very sad for you that drugs have played such a big part in your life.”