THIS is the thief who stalked the streets and stole door handles from the homes of Hartlepool residents – including one 80-year-old woman who was left locked inside her house.
Homeowners rallied together to free themselves from their homes following the mindless actions of Hartlepool man Paul Healy who stole the handles from the front doors of their homes.
Today they branded the 38-year-old as “stupid and thoughtless” and were furious that he gave no regard to their safety as they could have been left trapped if there was a fire or an accident inside one of the homes.
Healy preyed on streets including Wilson Street, Mulgrave Road, Alma Street, and Bright Street, in the town centre area of Hartlepool, in the early hours of the morning.
He was spotted moving from door to door removing handles as he went.
Police arrested him and he was charged with six thefts of door handles.
But in court it was revealed that a total of 31 handles – that he was alleged to have stolen – have since been recovered.
Prosecutor Lilian Atkinson told Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court: “It was 4.20am when the defendant was seen acting suspiciously in Mulgrave Road and Alma Street where he appeared to be going from door to door.
“He was watched, but due to other matters in the street, police left and returned 10 minutes later and saw the defendant in Bright Street standing in the doorways and pulling items off one or two of the doors.
“It is correct to say that where the man had been stood there was damage to doors and their handles were missing.
“He was arrested a short time later at the top of Bright Street.
“He was in possession of 26 brass door handles.”
She added: “Police at the minute have in excess of 31 door handles.
“Six of them have been identified and there are numerous other properties that need to be checked to see where the door handles were stolen from.”
Healy, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to six counts of theft of door handles on July 10.
Mitigating, Neil Taylor said: “These are unaggravated thefts and they’ll go straight down to the scrap yard where he’ll receive a certain amount of money for them.
“It’s petty thieving, it’s not well thought out, it’s not planned, it’s not sophisticated, it’s very simple.”
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Kevin Armstrong released Healy on bail until his next court appearance on July 18 for the probation service to carry out a pre-sentence report.
Healy was warned that a jail term may be an option.