A PERSISTENT thief was caught after police deliberately left a laptop computer on the front seat of a car.
Grant Royal smashed the window of the BMW in Belmont, Durham City, and made off with the computer, Durham Crown Court heard.
“The car was being monitored by CCTV, set up for the purpose,” said Graeme Gaston, prosecuting.
“Royal, who has committed similar offences in the past, was arrested a short time afterwards.”
The court heard Royal was earlier caught going equipped for theft.
Mr Gaston added: “That was about six weeks before. He was seen by police acting suspiciously in Gilesgate.
“They observed him duck into a cut and throw something away.
“This was found to be a screwdriver.
“A laptop bag and a wallet were found nearby.
“These items had earlier been stolen from a parked Vauxhall car.”
Royal, 38, of Cunningham Place, Gilesgate, admitted going equipped for theft on December 12, last year, and theft on January 25, this year.
The court heard the theft breached a suspended sentence imposed for similar offences.
Ros Scott Bell, defending, said: “Mr Royal needed the money to pay the rent.
“His mother is guarantor on their home and he feared they would all be made homeless.
“He wishes me to apologise on his behalf to the owners of the cars.”
Judge Christopher Prince jailed Royal for 17 months.
The judge told him: “You are a persistent offender against people’s property and motor vehicles.
“You say these crimes were impulsive, but I find that hard to accept.
“Your record of similar offending is an aggravating feature of this case.”
The judge ordered the confiscation of the screwdriver.