Hartlepool allotment break-in pair caught in the act 'covered in burglar grease'
Two men who burgled allotment sheds have been given suspended prison terms.
Dylon Balmer and Macauley Lewis were caught with anti-climb paint from the allotment site's gates on their hands,
The two men were caught after an allotment holder called the police, Teesside Magistrates' Court heard.
"The man was visiting his allotment on the Thornhill site in Hartlepool," said Lynn Dalton, prosecuting.
"The lock on his shed had been breached, and items strewn about, although nothing was missing.
"He noticed three males acting suspiciously on a neighbouring allotment.
"Police were called and caught the men as they fled, discarding items taken from three sheds as they went."
The court heard one of the allotment holders had made a victim impact statement.
"He says it's not the first time the site has been targeted," said Ms Dalton.
"He says the allotments take quite a lot of time and effort to maintain, and it is disheartening when damage is done."
Balmer, 24, of Brigadean Close, Hartlepool, admitted three charges of burglary, and possession of a lock knife, all on May 26, last year.
Lewis, 19, of The Avenue, Seaham, admitted three charges of burglary on the same date.
Neil Taylor, defending both men, said: "It is difficult to sentence defendants for an offence which is months and months old.
"The evidence was overwhelming, they were caught discarding the stolen items as they ran away, and they were covered in burglar grease.
"There was no detective work to be done, so it is hard to see why it has taken so long to issue a summons.
"The offence itself was unplanned and amateurish, carried out under the influence of drugs."
Mr Taylor said both men had been keeping bad company, but both had moved away from their former area and associates.
"There has been no further offending by either defendant," added Mr Taylor.
"They both pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, so they deserve full credit for that."
The bench sentenced Balmer to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, 80 hours of unpaid work, 10 rehabilitation activity days, and ordered him to pay £245 in costs and compensation.
Lewis was sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £245 in costs and compensation.
The knife found on Balmer when he was arrested was confiscated and will be destroyed.
Corey Roberts, 22, of Sydenham Road, Hartlepool, admitted the three allotment shed burglaries.
He was due to be sentenced with Balmer and Lewis, but failed to turn up at court.
Andrew Teate, defending Roberts, said he was in London seeking employment.
The bench issued a warrant for the arrest of Roberts.