Footprints in snow stopped burglar in his tracks thanks to off-duty policeman

FOOTPRINTS in the snow landed a would-be burglar with a jail sentence.

Neil Burns was caught after his tracks aroused the suspicions of an off-duty police constable, Leeds Crown Court heard.

John Wallace knew something was not right when he saw the same footsteps in the snow going to a number of cars and homes in Duncan Avenue, Wakefield in the early hours of December 1.

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Philip Adams, prosecuting, said he then saw Burns going up the drive of another house where he tried the front door. When it did not open he went to the side and could be heard trying the garage door.

Burns then re-appeared and went to a neighbouring house where he tried the handles of two cars parked on the drive without gaining entry.

Mr Adams said Burns repeated his actions at two further addresses, trying either the doors of the houses or cars. He ran off when he was challenged by the officer about his behaviour but was chased and caught.

After other officers arrived to take him to the police station he claimed he had only been out for a walk to keep warm after being locked out of his address.

Burns, 28, of Agbrigg Road, Wakefield, was yesterday sent to jail for a total of 20 months after he admitted five offences of attempted burglary, four of interfering with motor vehicles and an offence in November of stealing three football shirts worth £135 from a shop in Castleford.

He was also in breach of a community order imposed for theft last year.

Jailing him Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said he had a bad criminal record motivated by his drug taking and had been given chance after chance by the courts.

“However unsophisticated these offences may have been I have no doubt if you had found a door open you would have been in somebody’s house while they lay asleep upstairs and that is a serious matter.”