Burglar’s four year crime wave

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A burglar from Hucknall, branded in court as “a prolific criminal”, has been jailed for four years after a spate of raids at homes near the town centre.

Steven Upton (38), of Beardall Street, has a record containing 21 convictions for a whopping total of 176 offences, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Among Upton’s victims this time was a traumatised Hucknall family who relayed to the judge the distress and despair they suffered after being burgled for the third time in 20 years.

“It left us feeling soiled and abused,” mum Carol Etches said in a statement, described as “tragic and touching” and read by Judge James Sampson.

“We are a hard-working family, and we cannot comprehend that someone has the right to force their way into our home and take our belongings.”

Martin Hurst (prosecuting) told the court that Upton broke into the Etches’ home on Portland Road some time between 4.20 pm and 9.20 pm on Tuesday 3rd March.

“Mrs Etches lives there with her husband and son, and when they returned home, they found two handbags outside the back door,” said Mr Hurst.

“A search of the house found that items including a watch, ladies’ jewellery and perfume had been stolen.”

The break-in was the fourth Upton had carried out in Hucknall in the space of 13 days, the court was told.

The first, on Thursday 19th February, was an attempted burglary at Woodstock Street, where the householder was upstairs in bed at the time. Upton fled when he realised this, but was traced through his DNA after leaving blood while forcing a glazed unit at the back door.

After the second burglary, at another address on Portland Road, belonging to Jamie Pratt, Upton left footprints that could be matched to his trainers, the court heard.

He stole coins and was later seen on CCTV footage trying to convert them into notes at an automated machine at Tesco, Mr Hurst told the court.

The third burglary was at a neighbour’s house on Beardall Street during the night of Sunday 1st March when Upton smashed a pane in the back door. He stole a laptop, TV, PlayStation 4, games, a glass vase, a handbag and a sat nav, worth a total of £1,515.

Mr Hurst added that, when arrested, 30 cannabis plants were found at Upton’s home.

Upton, who appeared via video-link from Nottingham Prison, pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary and one of attempted burglary. His barrister, Steven Ramsell (defending), admitted he had “a long and bad record” but claimed his crimes were “not particularly sophisticated”.

“At the root of this is that he struggled to find employment and pay his bills,” said Mr Ramsel.

Judge Sampson told Upton: “You are a prolific criminal. These were night-time burglaries during a short space of time in the same locality.

“There was a degree of planning, and your victims felt grossly violated.”