Burglar who stole £20,000 worth of goods jailed after leaving beer can at crime scene

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A man who stole over £20,000 worth of goods from multiple Cambridge shops was caught after leaving a beer can at a crime scene.

Darren Scales, 49 and of no fixed abode, carried out five burglaries between 15 July and 28 September, 2018.

Darren Scales

Darren Scales

On 15 July he walked into Harriet’s Café, in Green Street, Cambridge, and removed the till drawer by setting fire to the wires with a lighter. He ran off with the drawer hidden under a blanket, a laptop worth £400 and £140 cash inside, but had left a beer can outside the door. A forensic examination later revealed traces of his DNA.

Scales was eventually arrested on 28 September when two officers on foot patrol spotted Scales in a group huddled together on a bench in Sidney Street. He was holding a bag full of jewellery with price tags on, stolen from Catherine Jones Jewellery.

Scales pleaded guilty at court to four counts of burglary and one of theft. Including the laptop and cash he stole from Harriet's Café, they were:

On 17 July he stole £20 worth of sherry from Budgens Stores, Arbury Court, Cambridge.

Kevin Champion

Kevin Champion

On 20 July he was caught on CCTV breaking into Catherine Jones Jewellery, in Bridge Street, Cambridge. Once inside he smashed several cabinets and stole jewellery worth approximately £18,500.

On 24 July he was caught on CCTV using a brick to break into Winter Comfort, in Cambridge, a drop-in centre for the homeless. He forced his way into an office room where he removed a cash safe and took money from a till.

On 28 September, he broke into Catherine Jones Jewellery yet again, this time alongside another man, Kevin Champion. The two men stole jewellery worth around £3,200.

Champion, 43, of no fixed abode, was identified through CCTV by police who knew him from previous offences. He also admitted burglary.

At Cambridge Crown Court on 6 February Scales was sentenced to 35 months imprisonment and Champion was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.

Detective Constable Katie Housham said: “Burglaries can have a devastating impact on businesses and victims, which is why, as a force, tackling this crime is one of our main priorities.

“Champion and Scales did not consider the effect their actions would have, acting recklessly and selfishly. Luckily we were able to track the two down and bring them to justice.”