TWO burglars targeted a historic house after finding out about it on the internet.
Thomas Edward Cummings, 24, and Darren Blackburn, 21, both from Plains Farm, were spotted by an eagle-eyed neighbour near Doxford House in Silksworth, after stealing wiring and copper piping and driving off in a Ford Focus.
The man tipped off the owners of the derelict mansion with the car’s number plate details and police were able to swoop on Cummings’ home in Primate Road.
Both men were arrested after a search revealed the piping had been stashed at the side of the house and wiring was found in the boot of Cummings’ car, which were identified by one of the owners of Doxford House.
The pair pleaded guilty to burglary when they appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “Mr Blackburn told police he had found out about Doxford House via a website which lists derelict buildings. He went to Doxford House with his friend Thomas Cummings and jumped over the wall into the grounds of the property.
“He found an open window at the rear of the property and entered the building.
“They initially were just going to have a look around, but then saw copper piping and wiring on the floor and collected some of it up.”
Blackburn confessed all to police, but Cummings continued to claim he had found the stolen metal in the grounds of the house – until his third interview with officers, Mrs Beck added.
A statement from the one of the owners of Doxford House said he had spent “thousands upon thousands of pounds” on the Grade II-listed building.
He added: “I believe the police are doing their best to assist me, but I have been let down by the justice system. I feel they are not taking into account the importance of this building by allowing people to get away with ruining it.”
Representing unemployed Blackburn, Susan Grey said it was “out of character” for him, but soaring metal prices had sparked a wave of similar crimes.
She said: “Unfortunately, houses like Doxford House that have been vacant for so long become targets.
“They were not the first to go into Doxford House and steal things and unfortunately they won’t be the last.”
Defending Cummings, Derek Logg said he was a young man with a “catalogue of personal problems”, who received disability benefits and suffered from ADHD, who Blackburn had asked along because he had a car.
Blackburn, of Purley Road, was ordered to carry out 80 hours’ unpaid work and pay £85 towards court costs.
Cummings was given a four-month curfew from 7pm-7am and must also pay £85 court costs.