A MAN who tricked his way into the homes of two people and stole cash has been jailed for three years.
Paul Strong took £40 from the purse of his first victim, and £30 from the second, Durham Crown Court heard.
“The modus operandi is similar in each case,” said Peter Sabiston, prosecuting.
“Strong engaged the first victim in conversation as she was stood outside her home in Hall Close, Seaham, smoking a cigarette.
“He told her he was thinking about renting the house next door.
“After chatting for about 45 minutes he asked for a glass of water.
“The money was taken from the victim’s purse which was inside the house.
“She has a 20-year-old son with mental health problems who saw what happened and was distressed by it.”
The court heard Strong targeted a second victim in Strangford Road, Seaham, again saying he was thinking of renting the house next door.
During the conversation Strong told the householder he could smell burning.
He took the money while the householder went to the kitchen to investigate.
Strong, 22, of Hesledon Walk, Murton, admitted burglary on February 28 and March 13.
His previous convictions for burglary mean he is subject to a minimum three-year sentence, the court was told.
Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Strong was under the influence of drugs at the time.
“It is true he has offended in this way in the past, but his last conviction was some years ago in 2007.”
Judge Neil Clark jailed Strong for three years.
The judge told him: “This offending was mean and unpleasant.
“Money was tight for your first victim, so losing the £40 caused her hardship.
“You have shown a degree of remorse, but ultimately you are responsible for your actions.”