Crooks caught on camera during night-time car raid

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Two crooks, who raided a car in the middle of the night, were caught because it’s owner had a CCTV system at his home - and police immediately recognised the villains on the “very clear footage,” a court heard.

Burnley magistrates were told how prolific criminals Martin Rickwood (34) and Stephen Essex (33) targeted the unlocked Volkswagen Golf on Manchester Road, Burnley in the early hours of Thursday, April 21st.

Essex got in the car, pinched cash and passed a bar of chocolate to his look-out accomplice, who promptly ate it. The pair then walked off, unaware they had been caught on film and would soon be arrested.

The jobless partners-in-crime, who have committed 162 offences between them, share a house together on Grange Street, Burnley. They have now been curfewed to the address for the next eight weeks, after admitting theft of the £10 in change and the confectionery.

Essex, who is on licence from a jail term for burglary imposed last August, has 86 offences behind him and was on bail, is facing recall to custody. Asked by the Bench if he had had a curfew before, he replied he already had a tag box in his house. The defendant owed money to the court and ended up better off after he had £821 remitted and must now pay £265.

Rickwood, who was already on a curfew, has 76 previous offences. Both must now stay indoors at their home between 7pm and 7am, seven days a week. Each must pay £5 compensation.

Prosecutor Enza Geldard told the court the theft occurred at about 3.56am. The victim, Michael Connolly, had unintentionally left his vehicle insecure. He later found the loose change missing from the centre console.

He checked his own CCTV and the man later identified as Essex was seen opening the front passenger door and searching the car whilst Rickwood waited outside the vehicle, effectively acting as look-out.

Mrs Geldard said:” At one point, Mr Essex hands a packet to Mr Rickwood, who proceeds to open it and eat the contents. The two are seen to walk off together. The incident lasts approximately two minutes before they walk off.”

The prosecutor said on Monday, April 25th, police viewed the CCTV film and identified both defendants. She added:”It’s very clear footage.”

For Rickwood, Mark Williams said the offence had little or no planning, no damage was caused to the vehicle and the defendant spent at least 24 hours in custody,

David Leach, defending Essex, said his methadone and benefits had been stopped. The solicitor continued: ”He says he saw a chocolate bar on the front of the dashboard, tried the passenger door, went in and grabbed the chocolate. As he took it, he noticed there was some change and picked it up.”

Mr Leach added:”People shouldn’t venture into other people’s cars, but he did. It was somewhat opportunistic. He apologises. His benefits have now been reinstated and he is back on methadone.”