Sneaky thief jailed for stealing neighbour's car keys after asking to borrow some pepper while making corned beef hash

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A three-strike burglar has been jailed after he stole his neighbour's car keys when he called around to borrow some seasoning.

Crooked Christopher Bowlt, 36, who lived two doors away, said that he was cooking a corned beef hash when he ran out of pepper, a court heard.

When the woman went off to her kitchen Bowlt slipped into the hallway and he stole the keys to her daughter's black Ford Cougar parked outside

The family had CCTV at their Hartlepool home and the two women confronted him on his doorstep but he denied taking the keys.

Undeterred they called the police and he handed them over to the officers, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield said that the theft had upset the daughter because she feared that her 07 Cougar was going to be stolen.

Bowlt was a three-strikes burglar with 33 convictions for 68 offences, and the day before the incident on September 25 he had been given a conditional discharge for four offences of shoplifting

Andrew Teate, defending, said that it was an impulsive act and Bowlt had made no attempt to take the car.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told him: "You have got a very bad record.

"You are a three-strike burglar with two burglaries and very bad robberies which have resulted in you serving long terms of imprisonment.

"Since 2017 you have been shoplifting on numerous occasions.

"The day before you committed this offence you were given a conditional discharge for another four offence of shoplifting."

The judge added: "You lived two doors from your victim and on impulse you took the keys.

"You were always going to be detected and you were always going to be arrested and you were."

Bowlt, of Sherriff Street, Hartlepool, who appeared over a videolink from Durham Prison, was jailed for 20 months after he pleaded guilty to burglary and theft, and breach of the conditional discharge.