Burglar being tailed by team of undercover officers broke into two Morpeth homes after they lost him

Colin Richardson, jailed for burglaries
Colin Richardson, jailed for burglaries -Credit:Northumbria Police

A professional burglar managed to break into two houses while being tailed by undercover police officers after they lost him.

Colin Richardson, jailed in 2016 for targeting 20 homes after compiling a database of victims in wealthy neighbourhoods, had been released on licence. He was deemed so high risk, a team of undercover officers were watching him as he got a bus to Morpeth in February this year.

However they lost sight of him and he broke into two homes on the same street. One of the victims told how she has been left afraid to go out as a result of the intrusion. Now Richardson has been jailed at Newcastle Crown Court.

Newcastle Crown Court heard it was on February 29 this year that a number of officers were tailing him.

He broke into one home on The Kylins, Morpeth, which was being renovated and the owner had no personal belongings inside. The second victim went out for a few hours and returned at 9.15pm to find a rear patio door had been smashed.

Kelly Clarke, prosecuting, said: "She checked the rest of the house and could see a search had been made through the drawers and wardrobe in her bedroom. A bracelet was missing and cufflinks that belonged to her husband."

Richardson, 55, of Dean House, Wallsend, who has 79 previous convictions, was arrested nearby and was in possession of other stolen items, including a ring, a Christian Dior clip and earrings.

The woman said in a victim impact statement: "The incident left me feeling very angry someone broke into my house that me and my husband have spend years trying to make into our home. I feel now I dare not go out, when I used to like going out for walks locally.

"I feel terrified something else will happen if I go out. I've always felt safe in my home but don't anymore because of this. I feel numb at the situation and should never have to feel like this in my own home."

Judge Stephen Earl, jailing him for 32 months, said: "The defendant got on a bus and went to a housing estate in Morpeth, which is about 10 to 15 miles away. If it had not been for the fact he was followed by undercover officers we may never have been able to place him in the vicinity.

"The officers had been following him, they lost him but he was found in possession of some of the items."

He added: "If it looks like a burglar and acts like a burglar and something goes missing it's probably a burglar and there was one in the area who had been followed there."

Despite being jailed for 12 years, later reduced to 10 years, for 20 burglaries in 2016, he is not classed as a "three strike burglar" as they were all part of the same case. He was released from custody in November 2020, recalled after being caught going equipped for burglary - for which he was fined - in April 2021 and then released in June 2022. He has now been recalled on licence until November next year.

Jamie Adams, defending, said Richardson had been "deeply affected" by his last lengthy sentence and added: "He is an articulate and intelligent man but perhaps his decision making does not show that." He said he had become addicted to cocaine and added: "He is ashamed of what he has done."