Burglar who crept into woman's Sunderland home tracked down by police dog
A serial burglar is behind bars after a police dog led officers to the house he was hiding in after a "terrifying" raid.
Paul Reay, who had taken drink and drugs, broke into a terraced house in Sunderland while the residents were asleep, searched around and made off with a bike.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 37-year-old was nowhere in sight when officers arrived at the scene but Police Dog Roxy, a Belgian Malinois, had no problem tracking him down to a house in a nearby street.
Reay initially claimed he was not responsible for the break-in but, after police recovered the stolen bike from the house he was in, he pleaded guilty to burglary.
He has now been jailed for two years and five months.
The court heard one of residents at the burgled property at South Hill Crescent, which houses asylum seekers, woke up to the sound of an intruder in the property the early hours of November 7 last year.
Prosecutor Thomas Parsons Munn told the court: "She heard the door handle to her bedroom being tried.
"Thankfully, she had locked it.
"She heard footsteps going upstairs and after a while believed the intruder had left."
The court heard Reay had carried out a search of the property and took the bike, that belonged to the Red Cross but had been made available to the residents.
Police arrived at the scene but Reay had gone.
Mr Parsons Munn added: "One of the officers was a dog handler. She deployed her dog from the rear of the premises.
"The dog tracked from the rear yard, through a back lane to a property at Western Hill.
"As a result of this, officers attended that address."
The court heard when police knocked at the house Reay spoke to them through a window and claimed he had no key to open the door.
Officers climbed in and found the key - and the stolen bike - inside.
The resident who had heard her home being raided said she was left "terrified" and added: "I live here with women seeking refuge from a place full of danger to a place we thought would give a sense of security. I feel this is not the case."
Reay, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary.
Barry Robson, defending, said Reay has a long-term drug problem and had been the victim of a machete attack in the months before the raid, which caused his mental health to go "through the floor".
Reay handed in references about the support he has available were he allowed to be punished and treated in the community and his co-operation with those who can help him.
Mr Recorder Angus Withington said only an immediate prison sentence was appropriate and told Reay, who has 42 previous convictions including 12 for house burglaries: "You are a persistent domestic burglar."
Detective Chief Inspector Sean Mcguigan, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is another case that highlights the key role that our Dog Section plays within the Force.
“When we arrived at the scene, it was clear than an intruder had carried out an untidy search but it was initially unclear if anything evidentially had been left.
“But PD Roxy was quick to help and picked up a scent – leading officers across the road and directly to the front door of another house on a nearby street.
“Inside we were delighted to locate the stolen bike and find Paul Reay, who has now been brought to justice for committing the burglary.
“I’d like to thank everybody involved in this case, who showed outstanding teamwork, and hope this outcome offers comfort and reassurance to the victim.”