Freed bank robber hit Sunderland museums after release from jail

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
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A CONVICTED robber who once held up a bank with a vacuum attachment has graduated to raiding Wearside museums.

Keith Baff was given an indeterminate sentence in 1999 after his second robbery at Barclays bank – which he held up holding a pipe that got mistaken for a gun.

Despite being given a tariff of four-and-a-half years before he could be considered for parole, the now 44-year-old served almost 14 years behind bars before being released in 2012.

Baff was given a community sentence by magistrates last year after being caught on CCTV trying to break through a window at the glass centre in Sunderland.

Then in August last year Baff raided the city’s Museum and Winter Gardens – twice in one night. Mr Recorder James Brown yesterday gave him a final chance to stay out of jail and said: “He must have something against museums.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard Baff broke into the venue’s gift shop in the early hours of August 19, last year. Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: “There was some ransacking of the museum shop, turning over of displays and the like.”

Mr Bunch told the court Baff was back at the museum three hours later, searching for anything to steal that he may have missed the first time.

During the two break-ins Baff, who admitted burglary, made off with a donation box containing around £80 and caused around £1,000 worth of damage.

The court heard because Baff is out on life-licence, a prison sentence of even just a few months could lead to him being kept behind bars for years before he completes the required courses to convince the parole board he is safe to be freed again.

The judge said: “Custody, whatever the sentence, could turn out to be a very, very long time in prison again.”

He sentenced Baff, of Toward Road, Sunderland, to a community order with 200 hours unpaid work and a six month curfew from 10pm to 7am.