Fraudsters hid sat navs behind dust bin and bank cards in drain after crime spree

A pair of prolific criminals hid sat navs behind a dust bin and bank cards in a drain after committing fraud.

Lewis Heighton and Paul Jefferson appeared at Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced on Wednesday after a home on Morland Fell, in Redcar, was burgled. The court heard on November 4, 2022, the pair defrauded the homeowner out of money by using her bank card at the Esso fuel station, on Trunk Road.

Prosecutor Neil Jones said the pair spent £45.43 and were captured making the transaction on CCTV. Mr Jones said entry was gained to the home through an unlocked door and several items including a bank card and ID were taken.

He said: "At about 4am the homeowner discovered a number of items missing from the property. She contacted her bank and found a transaction had taken place using her bank card at the service station on Trunk Road. A community support officer had recently had dealings with both defendants and viewed the footage from a petrol station. She saw that the persons depicted were Heighton and Jefferson."

CCTV was handed in to police which showed the pair attempting to barter goods in a garden that morning. Two hours later at around 9.20am the same PCSO spotted the pair outside Asda and chased them but they fled.

Mr Jones said two days later a resident attended a Teesside police station and said property had been discarded in his garden. The court heard he found sat navs and dashcams in a bag behind a dustbin and also found bank cards in his drain, together with a driving licence belonging to the burglary victim.

The court heard Heighton, of Saltersgill Avenue, Middlesbrough, was interviewed under caution on November 5 and answered no comment to all questions. Just over a week later Jefferson of Harwal Road, Redcar, was interviewed and denied all allegations.

The pair did, however, both pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods, fraud and two counts of theft. The pair were previously charged with burglary but the charge was dropped.

In mitigation, Andrew Turton said drugs were Jefferson's motivation, he said: "He has had a long and entrenched drug habit which he simply hasn't been able to rid himself of. He indicated to me that he is remorseful for his actions and the motivation behind the offences was prescription medication and crack cocaine."

His co-defendant Heighton, addressed the judge saying he was remorseful. He said: "I've done a lot of drug work in prison. That's not me as a person that's the drugs and I don't like that person. I've been brought up better than that. I need to be worked with as I'm just going through the same cycle. I'd like to apologise."

Heighton, 35 - has 44 convictions for 103 offences - and was handed an 18-month prison sentence and his co-defendant Jefferson, 49 - has 75 convictions for 190 offences - and was sentenced to 17-months in prison.