The 'selfish' and 'abhorrent' crime which left a Sunderland charity shop smeared with burglar's blood

Police have slammed a ‘selfish’ burglar who raided a charity shop during the coronavirus crisis at a time everyone else was pulling together.

Monday, 4th May 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 11:07 am

Gage inadvertently cut his hand when gaining access – leaving a trail of blood – but continued to swipe items from the shelves and pack them into a rucksack and other bags.

But his conscience clearly got the better of him, and when police arrived they found a blood-stained crime scene and the DNA-smeared goods that had been left abandoned.

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Pictures released by Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police’s Scientific Support Unit sent swabs of the blood off for forensic examination which later led officers straight to Gage’s door.

Gage, of no fixed abode, was arrested and told officers in interview that he had “realised what he had done” while carrying out the raid.

On Friday May 1, he pleaded guilty to burglary when appearing before magistrates in South Tyneside. He was subsequently jailed for six months.

Detective Constable Neil Swainston, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was an unsophisticated burglary which saw Gage smash his way into a city centre shop and leave a trail of clues behind.

Michael Gage

“While his conscience may have ultimately got the better of him, clearly this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable – and at a time when everyone is pulling together, it is particularly abhorrent that someone would target a charity which relies on the support of volunteers and the community.

“Gage’s actions were selfish and unlawful – and he now begins a spell behind bars. I sincerely hope he uses this time to reflect on how his behaviour can adversely affect others.

“His conviction came as a result of some brilliant work from our forensic team who were able to provide irrefutable evidence that proved Gage was responsible, as well as the detectives who pulled together the case.

“I would like to reassure businesses and all retail premises in the city that officers continue to proactively patrol our streets every single day in order to take swift and robust action against any perpetrators.”

Some of the bagged-up items

Officers are asking the public to report crimes online via the Northumbria Police website where possible, to reduce demand on 101, though anyone in need of emergency help should dial 999.

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Some of the bagged-up items

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Blood at the scene
Some of the bagged-up items
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