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Burglar jailed for raids on Wiltshire houseboats
11:42am Monday 28th October 2013 in News
A man who broke into numerous canal boats just days after being put on a suspended sentence for burglary has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Allan Campbell wrenched off doors and windows of the narrow boats along the Kennet and Avon Canal across Wiltshire.
The 39-year-old was brought to book after a nationwide hunt and is behind bars after admitting the spree of offending.
Campbell had put on a suspended sentence by a judge at Exeter Crown Court on February 26 this year for burgling more than 80 caravans along the south coast.
But a week after a judge spared him from another jail term he was forcing his way into a houseboat on the canal at Bishops Cannings, near Devizes, to steal.
A few days after he smashed his way into two more boats, the first near Moulton Drive, Bradford on Avon and then close to Whaddon Lane, Hilperton, Trowbridge.
In the Bradford on Avon offence he took climbing equipment and clothing worth £800 and a camera, iPod, rucksack and £20 cash in the other.
Just 24 hours later he broke into another boat at Laywood Bridge, on the outskirts of Devizes, making off with £900 in cash, a camera and electrical items.
Then a few weeks later he broke into another boat at Bishops Cannings, again taking electrical items, food and some house keys.
Claire Marlow, prosecuting, said all the break-ins happed during the day when the boats were empty the stolen goods were sold at second hand shops in Swindon.
She said Campbell's fingerprints were found at the scene of the last offence and he was tracked down to friend's house where he had been staying.
But while some of the stolen property was found there, he had moved on stealing from the woman who had put him up.
He was eventually arrested in Lincolnshire in August and brought back to Wiltshire for questioning where he admitted what he had done.
Campbell, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and asked for 14 more offences to be taken into consideration.
Jason Taylor, defending, said his client was aware he was facing a lengthy jail term not just for the offences but also the suspended sentence.
He said Campbell had been put into care at the age of two, leaving at 16 with no family whatsoever.
"As a result of that he has sadly led a life of crime. He has found when he is released from prison in the past he has nowhere to go to," he said.
After a homeless charity arranged for him to stay in bed and breakfast for two weeks he moved on and committed the burglaries to raise money to live.
By the time he was arrested he said he had eventually found accommodation and work as a chef.
Jailing him Judge Douglas Field said: "You have pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and within weeks of being sentenced to a suspended sentence you went on this spree of offending and your targets were these house boats.
"They are people's homes, they have come back and found doors and windows wrenched open and valuable items taken, and items of sentimental value as well."