Have-a-go gems raid hero jailed for stealing

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A MAN who was lauded as a have-a-go hero for helping police catch jewellery thieves has been jailed after a court heard he ransacked homes just four days later – to steal jewellery.

Mark Francis, 24, was hailed a hero in June after he chased crooks who had stolen an expensive chain in a raid on a store.

But just four days later, the brazen father-of-two broke into an 85-year-old woman’s home and helped himself to her valuables and other sentimental items.

Later the same day, another elderly resident’s house was targeted, with jewellery, watches, mobile phones and electrical items stolen, worth a total of £4,200.

Leeds Crown Court heard on Tuesday that even before his moment in the media spotlight, Francis, of Leeds, West Yorkshire, had broken into a police “capture car” to steal a sat nav.

Francis, who appeared in his local newspaper on June 18 this year, was jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to burglary, receiving stolen goods and theft from a vehicle.

His barrister said the thefts, in the Cross Gates area of Leeds, occurred when Francis was suffering from bouts of depression. He said he was sorry and wanted to write to his victims to express remorse.

Recorder Simon Jackson was handed the newspaper cutting in which Francis described his role in catching a thief who took a gold chain at a shop in Leeds.

Recorder Jackson said: “I am satisfied this was a serious offence of seriously raised culpability because a substantial amount of property had been taken, the ransacking of the property and the elements of planning.”

A spokesman for Neighbourhood Watch said: “To burgle any home is despicable but to publicise yourself as a community champion while burgling homes is frankly hypocritical.