Burglars like house so much... they move in

Some of the �6,000 of devastation left by the burglars at the home in Preston New Road, Blackpool, after their stay.
Some of the �6,000 of devastation left by the burglars at the home in Preston New Road, Blackpool, after their stay.
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Burglars broke into a huge seven bedroomed Blackpool home – and liked it so much they decided to stay.

Natalie Wilkinson was among burglars who raided the property in Preston New Road as it was being renovated, then promptly decided to make herself at home.

Some of the �6,000 of devastation left by the burglars at the home in Preston New Road, Blackpool, after their stay.

Some of the �6,000 of devastation left by the burglars at the home in Preston New Road, Blackpool, after their stay.

She spent three nights drinking, smoking and using the place as her own with her then boyfriend.

And when the burglars left they caused £6,000 of damage by ripping out a boiler and copper piping, causing the property to flood.

In total, the gang were in the home for around two weeks, police said.

When they left, the property was found strewn with empty whisky bottles, beer cans and discarded cigarette butts.

But Wilkinson, who was 19 at the time and is now 22, of Overdale Grove, Blackpool, was finally brought to justice thanks to forensic analysis of the debris left behind – which recovered her fingerprints from a single beer can.

She was arrested and had previously pleaded guilty in court to the burglary, which happened between April and May 2011.

A police spokesman said the raiders had “caused damage on a grand scale”.

He added: “The estimated cost for repairs ran to thousands of pounds. This sentence is the result of hours of painstaking police work to analyse what was left behind in the property.

“She was identified from a fingerprint on a can of beer.”

The burglars smashed their way in and took the keys.

They then came and went before deciding to leave, taking the boiler and copper piping with them.

In order to remove it, a marble floor was ripped up and plaster board walls were also smashed out.

Richard Archer, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said the owner was alerted by a gardener that a burglary had taken place.

It went on to be discovered that the central heating system and the boiler were missing.

Mr Archer told the court: “That had caused considerable damage to the interior of the property. Water had been leaking all over the house.

“The female owner said it cost around £6,000 to replace the boiler and repair the damage to the ceilings and interior of the house.”

Wilkinson was interviewed by police almost two years later.

The prosecution said she had been “remarkably frank” telling them she had been in a relationship with a man at the time and having got hold of a key, they had a look around inside.

They thought someone was in, but after watching the property for a couple of days they realised it was empty and decided to go back staying around three nights drinking and smoking.

The metal was weighed in for £150-£200.

The court also heard that a number of men were investigated about the burglary but were released without charge because of a lack of evidence.

Defence barrister Fraser Livesey said Wilkinson had pleaded guilty.

Judge Michael Byrne said: “Right thinking members of the public will want to know how it is that somebody can do that and still not go to prison.

“But there are a number of extraordinary features which enable me not to send you to prison today.

“I know a lot has happened to you since you were 19. I am satisfied that intervening events have left permanent scars on you. You have had to grow up quickly”.

She was given 12 months prison, suspended for two years, with two years supervision.

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