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Family's joy after Torquay burglar is jailed for three years

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

  • haul: The recovered goods filled a police cell. INSET: Lee Bridge

  • delight: Mum Sophia Distin, hubby Daniel, children Summer and Daisy with the video tapes Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121203F-001_C

THE VICTIM of a career burglar was in tears when police returned precious family video films.

Now police say burglaries are at an all-time low after the recent convictions of some of Torbay's most prolific offenders.

On the day after burglar Lee Bridge was sent to prison for three years, detectives raided a flat in Torquay and seized thousands of pounds worth of drugs, cash and stolen goods.

The Aladdin's cave haul was so large police had to use an empty police cell to store it.

At Exeter Crown Court last Friday, Torquay burglar Bridge was sentenced to three years in prison on the three-strike rule.

Now Det Insp Nick Wilden has appealed to the public to help in the run-up to Christmas by locking away valuables.

"Burglary rates are at an all-time low at the moment," he said.

"We want people's Christmas presents to be under their own tree on Christmas morning, not somebody else's.

"We are actively targeting career criminals like Bridge and Eddie Mclear, who was also jailed recently, and will do everything we can to stamp out burglary."

Both cases were dealt with by the South Devon Pro Active unit, which seized £1,000 cash, amphetamines worth £1,000 and a large collection of property.

Some of the recovered items are featured in this week's Swag Bag.

Acting Det Sgt Jason Metcalfe said: "Decent, hardworking and law abiding residents are preparing for Christmas, but so are the criminals. We would like to reassure the public we are on their, case and our results are showing it."

Bridge was convicted of two burglaries in the Barton New Town area of Torquay and asked for six other offences to be taken into consideration. Police say subsequent searches at addresses linked to him recovered a large amount of stolen property.

Among the victims was a Barton family who lost their entire collection of video tapes.

Mum Sophia thought they would never see the videos again after their garage was raided. She said: "I cried when the police phoned me to say they had got them back."

Sophia, who lives at The Willows with husband Daniel and their two daughters Summer, four, and two-and-a-half year old Daisy, said: "When they phoned me from the police I said 'I'm sorry I have to go because I'm crying too much to talk'.

"We had other things stolen, including a Christmas present for my little girl and my husband's tools.

"But the one thing we were really upset about was the video camera and all the films because they couldn't be replaced.

"There were films of our wedding, honeymoon, my daughters first birthday and Christmas.

"We've got them all back now. I still can't believe it. Now the burglar is in jail for three years I feel better. I was terrified after the burglary.

"On the first night after it happened I slept wrapped up in a blanket on the girls' bedroom floor because I was so scared the burglar might come back.

"I couldn't sleep for weeks afterwards.

"It's definitely made me more aware of security. We've got new locks and alarms now."

SWAG BAG: Page 12.

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