A HOMELESS burglar thought he had hit the “jackpot” when the empty house he had chosen to spend the night in was fitted with copper pipes.
Paul Bruce had been kicked out of his home in Bruce Crescent, West View, Hartlepool, by his girlfriend so went looking for somewhere to stay.
Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard the 45-year-old went to the back of the boarded-up house in the same street and found the boards were insecure.
He made his way inside and was delighted to discover the pipework underneath the floorboards which he intended on selling for cash.
But his plan was foiled when neighbours heard him banging about.
Prosecuting Joanne Hesse told justices: “At 1.20am on the morning of December 20, last year, police received calls alerting them of banging in an unoccupied address in Bruce Crescent, Hartlepool.
“Upon entering the building, police heard banging on the first floor and found the defendant hiding behind a bedroom door.
“Floorboards were pulled up with copper piping underneath.
“The defendant was searched and officers found items including a Stanley knife and a small piece of cable.
“In police interview he said he was homeless and was looking for somewhere to sleep.
“Upon entering the building and finding the copper piping, he thought ‘jackpot’. He was going to remove the piping and sell it for money.”
Bruce, whose address was given in court as Bruce Crescent, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal.
Mitigating, John Relton said his client had gone into the property to merely “doss down” for the night.
He said: “This is an empty property which has been boarded up but the rear boards had been previously pulled from the rear door allowing my client ready access for the purpose of dossing down for the night.
“He thought he’d hit the jackpot when he saw a room full of pipes.”
Chairman of the bench Patricia Tarbitt sentenced Bruce to a four-week community order with a four-week curfew, ordered him to pay £40 costs and forfeiture and destruction of the tools he used for the crime.