A ONE man crimewave who plagued Blackpool – stealing £28,000 from people’s homes – is off the streets and behind bars.
Serial thief Dean Hirst (left), 25, broke into homes using a unique ‘snap lock’ method, which saw him break the locks off UPVC doors before stealing electrical items and jewellery.
Police admitted they had never come across the tactic and were delighted a thief who heaped misery on homeoners in Bispham, North Shore and Norbreck was now behind bars serving a three-year jail term.
Over a seven-month crime spree, Hirst raided 19 homes in Blackpool so he could sell expensive stolen items to pay off his mounting debts.
Det Con Steve Hallam, from Blackpool’s serious crime team, said: “This prolific offender committed a number of burglaries which were carried out to fund his lifestyle.
“His method of snapping UPVC locks was unique and enabled us to link a number of offences as well as retrieve and recover a lot of property for the victims.
“We are pleased the sentence handed to Hirst reflects the severity of his offending.”
After being caught out in June this year, officers raided Hirst’s home on Norbreck Road, Norbreck, where they found a stash of stolen goods which linked him to a number of burglaries.
He pleaded guilty to five offences of burglary but also admitted another 10 offences of burglary and four of attempted burglary and asked them to be taken into consideration at his sentencing hearing yesterday.
Preston Crown Court heard the method Hirst used for breaking into homes had previously been noted in Yorkshire, where the defendant is from.
Hirst raided two properties on Everest Drive, and others on Queens Promenade, Ashfield Road and Norcliffe Road in Bispham.
He told police he chose a house by looking to see if anyone appeared to be in, would knock on the door and if he got no reply, would go to the back of the property and snap the lock on UPVC doors.
After getting inside, Hirst would often search the whole house, leaving possessions scattered around as he pulled out drawers.
Jon Close, prosecuting, said: “The method he used of snapping locks was alien to the Lancashire area, particularly Blackpool, but it was frequently seen in Yorkshire, from where the defendant originates.
“Police made enquiries with local second hand dealers and retailers.
“During police interview he was extremely frank. He immediately said, when challenged about the offences, ‘yes, I did them’.
“He said he would go out looking to make some money by getting something he could sell.
“He also told officers at the time that he had committed other offences.”
Brian Williams, defending, said Hirst was the first to recognise he had to go to prison for his “appalling spree” of criminal behaviour.
He said: “He says that if immediate custody helped the victims to get over what he had done, then he welcomed it.
“It was quite simply a means of getting money because he was finding it exceptionally hard to make ends meet.
“He was having to borrow money. Debts were mounting and he was put under pressure to repay.
“That is of no comfort whatever to the victims, he is aware of that.”