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Prolific burglar who targeted dozens of homes around Woodbridge to feed his drug habit is jailed

PUBLISHED: 17:27 30 March 2017

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A burglar with a drug habit costing more than £250 a day who targeted a string of houses in the Woodbridge area has been jailed for four years.

Steven Johnson, who has been jailed after admitting five burglaries around Woodbridge. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary Steven Johnson, who has been jailed after admitting five burglaries around Woodbridge. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary

Steven Johnson broke into properties in Ufford and Melton.

He was eventually detained after police officers went to Ufford following a report of a burglary in The Avenue, he was chased and a police dog tracked him to Spring Lane, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

John Livingston, prosecuting, said footprints found at the scene of the burglaries matched Nike trainers belonging to Johnson.

Johnson had also handled stolen tools worth more than £300 and sold them for £80.

Johnson, 33, of Parklands, Ufford, admitted burglaries at properties in Aspen Close, Melton and Jenner Close, Melton on November 1 last year and three burglaries with intent to steal at houses in Spring Lane and The Avenue Ufford on November 8 last year.

He also admitted handling stolen goods in June last year. He asked for 21 offences to be considered.

Jailing him for four years and two months, Recorder Christopher Makey said Johnson had a poor record which included previous convictions for house burglaries in 2006, 2011 and 2014.

He said Johnson had not got a job and had funded his £250 to £360-a-day drug habit by committing burglaries.

He said the burglaries had a devastating affect on the victims some of whom had described feeling that their dream homes had become a nightmare after the break-ins.

Recorder Makey said one victim had jewellery of sentimental value taken and had faced a 60% rise in his insurance premium as a result of the break-in at his property.

Another victim had spent £3,000 on increased security at his home since the burglary.

Laura Kenyon for Johnson said her client had post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had dealt with it by using class A drugs.

She said he had committed offences to feed his drug habit but was determined to abstain from drugs in the future.

She said Johnson had given police officers details of 21 other offences he had committed in a bid to “wipe the slate clean”.

His offences included burglaries at homes in:

• Jenners Close in Melton in November where cash and jewellery were stolen

• Broomheath in Woodbridge in September where jewellery including wristwatches were taken

• Thomas Churchyard Close in Melton in October where he broke in and activated an alarm before fleeing with a quantity of jewellery

• Valley Farm Road in Melton in October where a window was smashed with a brick before jewellery was taken

• South Close in Melton in October where jewellery and a money jar were stolen

• Woods Lane in Melton in August where he reached through a dog flap in a back door to get the key to the property. A search was made and jewellery was stolen

• Sandy Lane and Lower Haugh Lane in Woodbridge in August – one where a back door at the property was forced open with an axe, the other where a back window was forced open, before a quantity of jewellery was stolen from both properties.

• Church Road in Melton and at Loudham Lane and Church Road in Ufford where a pane of glass in a door was smashed to gain access. Again searches were made and jewellery taken

• High Street, Ufford, and St Audrys Park Road in Melton were entered via unlocked windows and gold jewellery stolen from both, while another in Lodge Farm Lane in Melton was entered via an unlocked back door and cash and jewellery taken

In several cases Johnson broke in but then did not steal anything - the properties he targeted included homes in:

• Lower Haugh Lane

• Aspen Close in Melton

• Ufford Place in Ufford

• Martlesham Road in Little Bealings

Detective Inspector Simon Bridgland, who oversees the Operation Converter team, said; “This is another case which demonstrates the effect one person can have on the crime rate in an area.

“Johnson was arrested in the early hours of November 9 after officers were called to a burglary at a home in Ufford on the afternoon of November 8 and he was seen fleeing the property. It was strongly suspected that he was involved in many of the burglaries that had occurred in the area and he was arrested on suspicion of these offences too. However, at that time, there was insufficient evidence to charge him with more crimes.

“He realised that officers were progressing their enquiries to link him with other incidents and he chose to co-operate to admit his other crimes, allowing us to go back to his victims to give them some reassurance that the person responsible had been caught and would be dealt with.

“Johnson is a prolific burglar with very little regard for the householders he targeted. We know he caused considerable distress to those he burgled, as well as concern to those in the wider community during his spate of crimes, and the impact of his offending should not be underestimated.”

It’s thought Johnson stole over £11,000 worth of goods and caused more than £3,000 worth of damage during the series of offences.

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