Raided shed to get money for his rent

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A near midnight raid on a garden shed ended in court for a Whaplode man after police caught him walking along the street with a strimmer.

Matthew Rhodes (20) dumped the strimmer behind a hedge, but the police officer found it along with other items taken in the raid, magistrates heard.

Jim Clare, prosecuting, said the policeman was on routine patrol in Stockwell Gate just before midnight on April 22.

He checked the spot where Rhodes dumped the strimmer and found it alongside various electrical items and garden tools.

Rhodes confirmed the items weren’t his.

He was then searched and found to have a screwdriver and a torch.

Mr Clare said a police dog was used to try to trace where the garden tools had come from.

He said: “It’s right to say that, to the defendant’s credit, he identified where the items came from and the property owner confirmed the items were hers.”

Mr Clare said the shed had been left closed but unlocked.

He said Rhodes admitted he had gone out to steal and was jumping over garden fences to look for items in sheds. Rhodes said he was looking for items to sell to pay his rent.

Rhodes, who lives in Stockwell Gate, was sentenced to a six month community order with 80 hours unpaid work.

He must also pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Magistrsates ordered forfeiture and destruction of the torch and screwdriver used in the raid.

Rhodes pleaded guilty to burglary of a shed in Mill Lane, Whaplode, with intent to steal and guilty to going equipped for theft.

Solicitor Mark Hudson, mitigating, told the court: “He has described himself to me this morning as stupid, stupid for even contemplating doing something like this.”

He said Rhodes had worked all of his life up to about three weeks before the offences, but then became very short of money and decided to steal items to sell with a view to paying his rent.

Mr Hudson said: “He has made a very serious error of judgement and he accepts that.”

He said Rhodes was made subject to a police curfew following commission of the offences.

Probation officer Angela Jones gave a the court a pre-sentence report, saying Rhodes worked on markets in Nottingham and “work got a bit hit and miss” three to four weeks before the offences.