Career burglar jailed eight years
A CAREER burglar who stole from homes across Suffolk and then sold the property in his shop has been jailed.Michael Thwaites, 50, from St John's Road, Lowestoft, was imprisoned for seven years for seven burglaries and an attempted burglary after "professionally" targeting homes in east Suffolk and south-east Norfolk.
A CAREER burglar who stole from homes across Suffolk and then sold the property in his shop has been jailed.
Michael Thwaites, 50, from St John's Road, Lowestoft, was imprisoned for seven years for seven burglaries and an attempted burglary after "professionally" targeting homes in east Suffolk and south-east Norfolk.
He was also sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday to 12 months in prison for an unexpired sentence from a previous conviction, making a total of eight years.
Thwaites used his motorcycle to carry out reconnaissance work so he could target unoccupied homes, stealing small, portable items such as figurines and jewellery, which he could sell in his shop in London Road South, Lowestoft.
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At an earlier hearing, a jury found him guilty of the string of burglaries and attempted burglary committed between March 7 and July 14 last year. He was acquitted of a further six counts.
Sentencing Thwaites, Judge David Goodin said the defendant was a "career burglar" whose crimes spanned five decades. They took him to courts in Chelmsford, Maidstone, Rochester, Guildford, Canterbury and Croydon.
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He said: "You're 50 years old, 51 in December, and you're a career burglar. You began in 1968 when you were 13 and you have been busy."
Judge Goodin summarised Thwaites's previous convictions, with his first time in prison before he was 20 years old.
Disregarding concurrent sentences, Thwaites was handed down sentences totalling six years in the 1970s. Then in the 1980s his sentences added up to between seven and eight years, independent of unsuccessful community rehabilitation orders.
In the 1990s, Judge Goodin said Thwaites received a total of "something like five years" in prison.
He said: "In 2002 in Maidstone, you were sentenced to six years in prison on 29 May. You were released on 31 March with 12 months unexpired sentence hanging over you.
"Within a year you were burgling again. In these burglaries, which you now fall to be sentenced, it's quite plain that you would carry out a reconnaissance, certainly in some cases on your motorcycle, targeting homes of which the occupiers appeared to be away."
Thwaites seemed to acquire stock to sell in his shop, and while there were not any items of great financial value, they had sentimental value, the court heard.
Martin Evans, prosecuting, said Thwaites was found with figurines and other items he had stolen in his pockets on July 13 last year.
Judge Goodin said although Thwaites had not deliberately targeted elderly people living on their own, it was "inevitable" they would become victims of someone who was so "prolific and determined".
Thwaites's mitigating team withdrew from representing the defendant at the beginning of the sentencing yesterday because of the nature of letters they received from him, which showed he had little or no confidence in them.
When Judge Goodin gave Thwaites the chance to say anything before he was sentenced, his reply was: "No, I think the less said the better."
Judge Goodin said the serious aggravating factor was the "professional way" he committed the crimes.
A hearing will be held in Ipswich Crown Court in December regarding a confiscation order, which will look at any assets, including stock, that can be recovered.
The offences Thwaites was convicted for were:
n A burglary between March 8 and March 14, 2004, at an address in Hopton, near the Suffolk/Norfolk border.
n A burglary on April 17, 2004, in Kessingland.
n An attempted burglary on May 21, 2004, in Lowestoft.
n A burglary on June 15, 2004, at Hellesdon, Norfolk.
n A burglary on July 5, 2004, in Woodbridge.
n A burglary on July 5, 2004, in Saxmundham.
n A burglary on July 13, 2004, in Halesworth.
n Another burglary on July 13, 2004, in Halesworth.