A Hartlepool burlar who targeted an unoccupied house in the early hours has been jailed.
Kevin Willis claimed he saw the front door of the house in Stephen Street in Hartlepool open when he walked past at 4am.
A member of the public called the police and officers arrested Willis as he left the property carrying some of the pipes.
“Police heard voices on arrival,” said Rachel Masters, prosecuting.
“Some pipes had been removed and stacked in the rear yard.
“Willis dropped the pipes he was carrying as police arrested him as he left the house.
“In interview, he said he had walked past the house and had taken the decision to go in after seeing the door already open.”
Willis, 32, of Chatham Street, Hartlepool, admitted burglary on January 9.
The court heard his previous convictions include three burglaries, which means he qualifies for a minimum three-year sentence.
Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: “Were it not for his record this offence would not merit such a long sentence.
“All that can be usefully said on his behalf is that he pleaded guilty and is entitled to a discount for his plea.”
Judge Howard Crowson jailed Willis for 876 days.
The judge told him: “In this case your sentence has been effectively fixed by Parliament.
“The circumstances of the offence mean that I do not need to go above the starting point of three years.
“You are entitled to a discount for pleading guilty which I think you know is 20%.”