A BURGLAR was caught inside a house in the early hours after a witness saw the light of his torch has been jailed.
The householder was upstairs when Ronald Henderson, 31, broke into his home.
It is the 10th burglary Henderson has been convicted of since 1998 and he has a shocking record, which includes 59 convictions for 223 offences.
Police found the raider’s bike propped against the garden wall of the Hartlepool property with the front door partly open.
One officer stepped inside shouting “police” and Henderson responded with: “You’ve got me.”
The noise alerted the occupant of the house in Lansdowne Road, Hartelpool, who went downstairs and checked his property.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told Teesside Crown Court that he found that his wallet was missing from his jacket.
Henderson, who was wearing a woolly hat and a padded jacket and was carrying the torch, said: “It’s behind the couch”.
He said that he had gone inside and picked up the wallet, and when he heard the police arrive he had thrown it behind the couch.
Mrs Haigh said: “The aggravating features are that it was night time, the occupant was there and there was clearly some interaction when the police arrived.”
Martin Scarborough, defending, said that the victim accepted that he had not locked his door although he thought that it was secure.
He told the judge: “It is clearly aggravated by the fact that he has a number of convictions for burglary, but I ask that you keep the sentence as low as possible.
“He knows that his offending is too great and he has been in and out of prison for many years.
“He has shown co-operation and remorse.”
Judge Les Spittle told Henderson that the least sentence he was facing because of the three-strikes rule was three years.
The judge said: “You were looking at a number of premises and vehicles, and when you saw your chance, in you went.
“When the police arrived you did not present any problem at all and you told them where the wallet was.”
Henderson, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for three and a half years after he pleaded guilty to the October 27 burglary.