A BURGLAR broke into five garages where a number of cars were smashed into as he looked for things to steal.
Sam Wright used bolt cutters to help him and two other accomplices force their way inside a block of rented garages where the owners had parked their cars in a bid to protect them from crime and damage.
Three cars, including a new Seat Mii, had their windows smashed to gain entry.
Wright, 23, admitted five counts of burglary with intent to steal, but denied he caused any damage to the cars.
A member of the public called police after they saw three men tampering with the locks of the garages in Gulliver Road, Hartlepool, at around 11.30pm on April 15.
In one garage, a Vauxhall Corsa had its driver’s side window smashed and CD front had been removed.
Another Corsa was broken into after its side window was broken and items had been taken from the glove box.
The Seat Mii suffered the worst damage, with its back windscreen and three out of four side windows were smashed.
Wright, who had no previous convictions, was arrested after a short foot chase by police when he discarded a bag and the tools he had taken with him, including a torch and hammer.
Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Wright was a cannabis user at the time but had since reduced his consumption of the drug.
He added:” He fully accepted he had gone into a number of garages looking for items to steal but did not take anything.”
Wright, of Erskine Road, Hartlepool, was given eight months’ prison suspended for two years with two years’ probation supervision and 150-hours community service.
Judge Tony Briggs said: “You can’t shirk responsibility by saying you physically didn’t damage the cars if you allowed the others to get in and behave in the way they did.”