A charity box thief who stole from pubs, bookies and a doctors' surgery has been jailed to protect the public.

Stephen Dolan, 48, who stole an Wiltshire Air Ambulance collection box from a Chippenham betting shop, went on a stealing spree to fund his drink and drug habits.

Now Dolan, of Kingsbury Square, Melksham, has been told he had run out of chances.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court on Friday that the landlord of the Tollgate pub at Holt noticed an outside stock area had been broken into.

When he looked at CCTV he noticed two men had raided the area on Monday, February 3, and again the following day with £700 of wine and champagne being stolen.

On Tuesday, February 18, Dolan stole a purse and its contents from a customer in The Bear at Melksham.

The woman had put her bag on the back of her chair as she had lunch and footage from cameras in the bar showed the defendant taking the purse.

A week later an iPhone went missing after being left in a consulting room at Giffords Primary Care Centre, Melksham, and again CCTV footage showed Dolan was responsible.

When he was arrested he was found to have a small amount of heroin on him.

Dolan pleaded guilty to three burglaries, theft and possession of a class A drug.

He also asked for two other matters to be taken into consideration, the theft of a phone from The Bear in Melksham in January and of the charity box.

On Tuesday, February 18, he had gone into Corals in New Road, Chippenham, and, after weighing up the two charity tins on the counter, took the heavier one.

Mike Jeary, defending, said: "He is heavily convicted, the reason why is he has addictions to alcohol, heroin, amphetamines, and any other noxious substance he can sniff or take.

"He has committed, on his own admission, mean and spiteful offences to the people of Melksham who if they go in a pub and have a coffee he will go and have their bags away if he can.

"He is long in the game enough to know saying sorry to you means nothing, it is showing he is sorry when he gets out."

He said Dolan had a period a few years ago where he had been out of trouble and asked for the court to give him a chance.

But, jailing Dolan for 20 months, Judge Douglas Field said: "Over the years you have been given chances, the latest this community order which was to tackle your drink and drugs. 

"I have to balance your counsel's request for another chance with the need to protect the public.

"I am not prepared to give you another chance, the public have to be protected."