A determined group of Burnley neighbours have banded together to help put a prolific burglar behind bars.
Lee Conroy was jailed for four years after appearing in Burnley Crown Court – but would most likely still be walking the streets if not for the efforts of one small community working alongside the police.
Conroy (39), of Beech Street, Padiham, was arrested in May following a burglary at mum-of-one Enya Nelson’s home in Sycamore Avenue, Burnley, where he made off with £750 worth of holiday money and jewellery belonging to her dead grandparents.
PC James Walton, who worked on the case, said Conroy was caught on CCTV and was identified by witnesses.
He was subsequently arrested but denied the offence, claiming he was not the man in the CCTV. He was released without charge.
PC Walton said: “Enquiries continued and as a result we identified further witnesses who then highlighted that Conroy had been on the street on two separate occasions on May 8th, checking properties and trying door handles.
“He was then arrested a second time for two attempted burglaries on Sycamore Avenue along with the original burglary.
“Again Conroy denied his involvement. He was charged after consultation with Crown Prosecution Service.”
During the trial, Conroy later admitted he was the man in the CCTV according to PC Walton but continued to deny the burglary, stating he was only there collecting scrap metal.
Following a four-day trial he was found guilty of all three offences and sentenced to four years for the burglary and two years for each of the attempted burglaries, which will run concurrently with the burglary.
Enya (26) said the whole ordeal had left her shocked and frightened to be at home alone with 16-month-old Evie.
“I was really shocked when I came back home and saw what had happened. It was the middle of the afternoon and I had actually been out shopping and was going to get the holiday money changed, but I forgot it. The holiday was month a later. Luckily we were still able to go thanks to family and friends.
“We’ve got none of the stuff back. My grandparents’ jewellery was worth thousands but it’s the sentimental value of it. It can’t be replaced. I’m just glad the man responsible is behind bars.”
Winess Simon Vickers, who lives in Kiddrow Lane, said it was incredible how all the evidence came together .
“Enya posted something on Facebook saying that she had been burgled. I then responded saying I had seen somebody suspicious hanging around that day at 11am and 3pm. One of the other neighbours, Angela, whose house he had tried to break into, then got in touch saying she had seen some CCCV with a man on it and so I went around and identified the man as the one that I had seen. Another man called Steve also a detailed witness account and it all just came together.”
Enya added: “It was such a relief when he was arrested because you are always worried if they are going to come back. We’ve got an alarm and cameras now and Simon and a few of the others are talking about setting up a sort of Neighbourhood Watch scheme which will be really good. The police are always getting slated but they were so helpful as well.”
PC Walton was also full of praise for the neighbours.
“It was a very good result to see a prolific and experienced burglar of the streets. Without the help of the individuals involved the outcome wouldn’t have been possible, it’s been great to have worked with those involved.”