An opportunistic thief who carried out a roof-top raid at a South Tyneside store has walked free from court – as a devastated shop boss faces up to a £25,000 bill.
Jason Cason looted the Fair Tech Computers store, in the Denmark Centre, South Shields, after being given a wake-up call by a fellow crook that the premises had been broken into.
Burglars had climbed onto the roof and smashed the electronic shutters on a skylight to make their way inside on August 17.
Business boss Abm Shamim and wife Hosneara Begum were greeted by shards of glass covering the floor and broken cabinets and shelves from the ransacking when they opened up the following morning.
A huge haul of 150 phones valued at £15,000 had been taken and £10,000 of damage was caused during the raid – including shattered cabinets, an alarm ripped from the wall and electric shutters prized open.
Cason took 15 of the phones before swiftly trying to sell them on.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that the 42-year-old entered the store through the skylight after the initial break-in – only to be caught red-handed by police in possession of some of the spoils of his crime when he was arrested after being identified on in-store CCTV.
Cason, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, admitted burglary and was given a 12-month community order by magistrates – but was not ordered to pay any compensation for his ‘limited role’ in the raid.
Keith Laidlaw, prosecuting, said: “On Monday, August 24, Cason was arrested on suspicion of burglary.
“He had three phones in his possession –two of which were taken from the store. He had attended a store in King Street just five minutes before he was arrested, where he sold four of the phones from the store for £68.
“Another phone was found after a search of his home. In interview he said another man, who he refused to name, had knocked at this door and woke him up to tell him the roof of Fair Tech had been broken into.
“They attended Fair Tech and entered via the skylight.”
Cason pleaded guilty to the burglary charge on the basis that he stole 15 phones but was not responsible for the break-in.
Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said: “He made immediate admissions to the police and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
“It is accepted that his involvement was very limited.”
Cason was given a 12- month community order, must to keep to an 11am to 6pm curfew for three months and was told to pay a £150 criminal courts charge and a £60 victim surcharge.