Trail led police to thief

Ian Nichols
Ian Nichols
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A MAGPIE officer with a beady eye for stolen property helped solve the mystery of a theft from a Thornton flat.

Ian Nichols, a police civilian officer employed to hunt out stolen goods which offenders have sold on, was praised in court for his efforts catching up with a Stalmine crook.

Mr Nichols tracked down an XBox computer and two games, which had been stolen during a burglary at a flat on Fleetwood Road in Thornton, to a Blackpool shop.

Checks showed James Dean had pawned the property for £35 at the Cash Generator on Waterloo Road on the same day as the burglary.

Dean, was sentenced to twenty weeks prison, suspended for two years, at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to handling.

The 22-year-old, of Smithy Lane, Stalmine, will be on a curfew from 8.30pm until 7am each night for a five-month period.

Mr Nichols said: “It makes the job worthwhile when you can track down an aggrieved’s property and return it to them.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, games console or jewellery, the fact that it’s been stolen means there’s nothing better than getting it back to the victim - especially when it’s of sentimental value.”

Mr Nichols said he encourages people to use Smart Water - a clear forensic solution - and UV pens to mark their property.

The court heard a total of seven computer games, as well as the X Box and more than £100 cash had been taken from the flat on Fleetwood Road last August.

Richard Hunt, prosecuting, said: “Following the complaint of burglary, police began to look into it.

“A magpie officer, a police member of staff who looks out for stolen property in the Blackpool area, went to Cash Generator on Waterloo Road.”

Some of the stolen items were there, having been sold by Dean. He had lived in the same block of flats as the address that was raided.

Julie Taylor, defending, said a lot of his offending had been motivated by financial need.

She said: “When he is settled and in work, he manages to stay out of trouble.

“But if he gets into financial trouble, he has turned to crime to assist him. He is now back on an even keel”.