Family of South Shields burglary victim praise police after man is jailed

The family of a burglary victim have paid tribute to police who helped bring the thief to justice.

Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 8:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 8:32 am
Lee Robert Wooden.

Prolific burglar Lee Robert Wooden sneaked into the home of an elderly lady in the Marsden area of South Shields, on the morning of April 11.

After entering through an unlocked door, the 46-year-old, of Brookside Avenue, Blyth, grabbed the woman’s purse, cash and mobile phone.

When confronted by the shaken pensioner, Wooden claimed he was looking for someone called “Mary” before fleeing with the stolen items.

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As officers closed in following a 999 call, the intruder tried to make his escape by hopping over nearby garden fences – but was soon apprehended, arrested and found to be in possession of the stolen goods.

On May 29, Wooden was jailed for three years after admitting one count of burglary at Newcastle Crown Court.

Now, following the offender’s conviction, Christopher Sybenga – son of the victim who himself is a retired Northumbria Police officer - has thanked police for their “thorough investigation” and the support offered to the family since the harrowing episode.

“Burglary is a horrendous crime, especially for an elderly female,” Mr Sybenga said.

“Pc Claire Chapman and the whole team were excellent when dealing with my mum, reassuring her and presenting an extremely positive and professional image of Northumbria Police – as did every officer who came into contact with our family.

“The support that the police gave to my mother was second to none, and the thorough investigation and eventual conviction of Wooden has gone a long way to helping her get over this ordeal.

“The police often face unjust criticism for their actions and people are sometimes quick to make complaints.

"Sadly, a lot of good work is not always acknowledged.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to offer a special thanks to all the officers involved in this case for their excellent police work.”

Inspector Denise Easden, of Northumbria Police, also paid tribute to staff who worked tirelessly to ensure a serial offender was put behind bars.

“A lot of hard work went into this case,” Insp Easden said.

“Ever since we received the call from the victim, our Neighbourhood Police Teams have worked swiftly and decisively to ensure the perpetrator had his day in court.

“Lee Wooden is an opportunistic thief who has shown a disregard for the law.

"His actions have caused inevitable distress and we hope his imprisonment can bring some kind of closure to the family.

“Tackling crimes such as burglary remains a real priority for the Force.

"We will continue to look to arrest offenders, as well as increase awareness and spread crime prevention messages to help keep our communities safe.”

Lighter nights and warmer weather historically sees a rise in anti-social behaviour, thefts and burglaries, but Inspector Easden says that a few preventative steps could make a big difference over the coming weeks.

“Quite often, burglars will target a street and go from door-to-door," Insp Easden said.

"They are trying the door to see if it is unlocked, and if it’s not, they just move on to the next house.

“Unlocked front doors are easy targets for burglars, and we would like to remind the public to make sure valuable items such as car keys, credit cards and mobile phones are kept in a safe place.”