Sunderland thief stole Elf on the Shelf, crisps and chocolate from burger van - then got caught after his blood was found at the scene
A thief who stole an Elf on the Shelf from a locked burger van was caught after his blood was found at the scene.
The toy, crisps, pop, chocolate and other foodstuffs were taken in the overnight break-in at the van in Hertburn, Washington.
James Pennock was arrested after his blood was found following the raid, South Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard.
"The owner of the van operates it during the day," said Oriana Frame, prosecuting.
"He left it as usual overnight locked and secure, but when he returned next morning the door and serving hatch had been forced.
"Foodstuffs and an Elf on the Shelf toy had been taken.
"The owner said temporary repairs have cost him £150, but a full, permanent repair will cost £3,500."
Pennock, 20, of Goathland Drive, Sunderland, admitted theft on November 22.
Jason Smith, defending, said: "Mr Pennock has some mental health difficulties which makes him a young man who is easily led.
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"This is what happened on this occasion, although he accepts he went into the van.
"He was trying to be accepted by a peer group who were just using him.
"Mr Pennock has since realised that, and has moved away from those people,
"He has turned his life around to the extent that he has a job delivering parcels for Yodel, earning about £150 a week.
"Mr Pennock lives with his parents, they will forego his board money until any fine is paid."
Mr Smith added that Pennock has had some 'natural justice' which involved him being hospitalised overnight.
The bench ordered Pennock to pay £405 in fines, costs, and compensation.