Man took house key from under plant pot and stole £18,000 worth of cash and jewellery

Ian Edwards, 58, of no fixed address, was jailed for two years for burgling a house near Llangollen
-Credit: (Image: North Wales Police)

A thief stole a house key from under a plant pot and made off with a safe containing cash and jewellery worth £18,000. Ian Edwards was mates with the owner of the rural property near Llangollen.

When police cornered Edwards in woodland, he led them to the safe and its contents - although the cash had vanished. Caernarfon Crown Court heard that the 58-year-old blamed his gambling machine addiction for the crime.

Prosecutor Alexa Carrier said Edwards' victims lived in the detached property, and were acquainted with the defendant. Edwards, who had previously been in the house during bathroom work, was invited by one of the occupants on a trip out on May 3. Later, on May 5 both residents went out separately, leaving a key under a plant pot.

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After returning home that afternoon , neither noticed anything wrong at first. However, when the female occupant went to bed at 10.30pm, she discovered that the safe on a bathroom shelf had disappeared, reports North Wales Live.

It had contained cash and jewellery worth £18,000 and her mother's will. Police were called in and became suspicious about Edwards. On May 11 they found him in woods, said Ms Carrier.

The defendant showed officers the safe, jewellery and document, although the money was missing. He told police he gambled with the cash and expressed remorse, the court heard.

In a statement, the female resident of the house said the burglar had violated her personal space, and caused her distress and nightmares. She mentioned that her mother had recently passed away and she had been saving the money for dental work.

Now, she feels unsafe in her home, which is tucked away from the main road, and is considering installing CCTV cameras, an expense she hadn't planned for. Alun Williams, defending, revealed his client has been a "compulsive gambler since he was eleven years old". He squandered the stolen money on slot machines in a short span of time.

However, he cooperated with the police, added the barrister. Edwards also sought help from the GamCare group for his addiction while on remand in prison.

Edwards confessed to burglary in the incident in May and he was jailed for two years. Judge Her Honour Nicola Saffman pointed out that Edwards had been known to his victims and that they used to leave a key under a plant pot, a common practice in rural areas.

She stated: "You knew that they kept a key outside the house". Following the sentencing hearing, investigating officer, PC Lauren Halliwell, of North Wales Police's priority crime team, said: "This burglary was an incredibly upsetting and invasive incident for the victims, who feared they had lost sentimental jewellery passed down from family."

"Following the diligent and dedicated work of the response officers, CID and the burglary team following the arrest, they were quickly able to recover the stolen items and return them back to the owners. Burglaries have devastating impact on victims and my message to those who commit these offences in North Wales is that you will be caught, and you will be brought to justice.

"I am grateful to the court for passing a custodial sentence in this case and hope this gives Edwards' victims some measure of comfort." For the latest court reports, sign up to our crime newsletter here