Villagers left frightened after thief entered cars at night

Ipswich criminal David Vincent's Suffolk police custody photo

David Vincent was jailed for 14 months at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A thief who prowled around a Suffolk village, going from car to car  looking for valuables to steal on three separate nights, has been locked up for 14 months.

David Vincent was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday for one count of theft, eight counts of vehicle interference, and for breaching two suspended prison sentences.

The 42-year-old was the first person to be charged under a new police operation designed to crack down on motor vehicle crime, burglary, and criminal damage in West Suffolk.

Prosecutor Hugh Vass told the court how Vincent committed the offences in Acton, near Sudbury, on three nights between December 20 and January 14, when he was arrested by officers on patrol in High Street.

Mr Vass said Vincent had been recorded on domestic CCTV, trying car door handles and peering inside any vehicles he found unlocked – making off with only a vacuum cleaner of very limited monetary value.

Vincent, of Roundwood Road, Ipswich, appeared before magistrates the following day to admit one count of theft and eight counts of vehicle interference.

He was remanded in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on Monday.

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Vincent was the first person charged following the launch of Operation Night Owl in response to a trend in thieves entering unlocked vehicles during hours of darkness.

At the time of the offences, he was under curfew and serving two suspended prison sentences for shoplifting and burglary.

Nicola May, mitigating, said Vincent's offending history was almost invariably limited to small scale thefts of items to sell on to fund a 27-year heroin addiction.

"These were unsophisticated offences," she added.

"He simply goes up to cars, tries the door handles, and if they're open, looks inside."

She said the offences were committed during a period when Vincent was unable to collect his methadone prescription and had lapsed back into heroin use.

"He tells me he has been drug free, and even methadone free, since his time on remand in prison," she added.

"He intends to make a fresh start away from the area upon his release."

Recorder Jeremy Benson said the victim impact statements of two villagers recalled their fright at knowing someone had been prowling the village at night.

He jailed Vincent for three months for theft and activated 11 months of the two outstanding suspended prison terms.

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