Sunderland burglar who caused 'misery to householders' is put behind bars
A career burglar who caused "misery to householders" has been put behind bars.
During his latest spree, serial raider Steven Spencer broke into two houses and took the victims' cars.
One has been left so shaken by the invasion that they may move home and another lost her newly bought £15,000 Jeep, that she used for her business and was written off.
Spencer tried to get into a third house, where there was a woman with children inside, but was disturbed before he could enter.
The 51-year-old has 55 previous convictions, including 18 for burglary, and was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court today for three years and nine months with a three-year road ban.
Judge Robert Adams told him: "You have a dreadful record for burglary, of you causing misery to householders.
"You are effectively a career burglar."
Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court Spencer targeted a house in Sunderland on June 29 in the early morning, while the householder, who had just got back from walking his dog and had left the front door unlocked, was getting ready for work upstairs.
It was when the victim got downstairs he realised his wallet was gone, along with his car keys from a coffee table.
Mr Pallister told the court: "When he looked outside he realised his car was no longer where he had left it and realised he had been burgled."
The court heard Spencer used the victim's bank card to make around £100 of purchases from local shops and the car was later found dumped.
The victim said in a statement: "I believe we will now have to move, we never feel safe.
"It felt like a personal attack on us.
"I don't think people who commit these types of crimes realise how much it can affect the victims involved."
On July 1 Spencer targeted another house in the city but he was disturbed when the victim saw a "shadow appear" in a glass panel of her door after her security light activated.
She said in a statement: "I am shocked someone would be so bold as to try entering a house that was lit.
"I had children in the house, which is even more disturbing."
Spencer's final raid was at another house in Sunderland, on July 19.
This time he crept into a house while the resident was sitting out in the back yard with a friend.
He took jewellery, ornaments, her guest's mobile phone and the keys to her recently bought vehicle.
A short time later Spencer crashed the vehicle into a tree and caused such extensive damage to the front it had to be written off.
He was detained by witnesses at the scene until the police arrived.
The owner said in her statement: "The idea of someone being in my house without my permission scares me.”
Jane Foley, defending, said: "This is a man who has a long standing, troublesome, history with drugs and alcohol misuse."
Miss Foley said Spencer has lost friends and family because of his addiction and has suffered periods of homelessness.
Spencer, of Front Street, Sunderland, admitted two charges of burglary, one attempted burglary, two charges of having no insurance and driving otherwisethan in accordance with a licence and one of failing to provide a specimen.