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Ten-year trail of petty crime across Torbay ends with thief being sent to prison

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

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NOTORIOUS thief Ben Fone is behind bars after a ten-year trail of petty crime across Torbay.

Police say that amphetamine user Fone, who has been arrested and held in police custody 40 times, has been a 'thorn in our sides' for years.

Detectives say 24-year-old Fone, from Torquay, has been in and out of custody, prison and bail hostels since the age of 14.

A total of 126 crimes have been logged against him, but detectives say that is just perhaps the tip of the iceberg. They suspect he has been responsible for many more car break-ins and burglaries to fund his amphetamine habit.

Fone was caught red-handed breaking into a car on a police covert capture camera car in Upper Morin Road, Paignton, as part of the highly successful pre-Christmas Operation Reindeer.

Fone had also broken into a van in Tor Hill Road, Torquay, where he stole a phone and wallet with total value of £560.

Fone, who has previously been banned from parts of Torbay under an ASBO, was recognised instantly by police when they viewed the film from the car.

At Exeter Crown Court, Fone admitted two thefts and possession of amphetamines and cannabis and was jailed for a total of 15 months.

He was already subject to a suspended sentence for a bizarre theft from a neighbour's flat at the Newton Road hostel, in which he moved all his property into his own room.

The shocked victim went to investigate and suffered a feeling of déjà vu when he looked around the room and was confronted by all his own possessions, including bedding and television.

Det Sgt Jason Metcalfe said: "Ben Fone was caught employing covert techniques and the covert capture car following a series of offences in the Paignton area.

"During Operation Reindeer we were targeting suspects in relation to theft from motor vehicles.

"Fone was given every opportunity to assist with the police to try to get his life back in order by working with our turnaround team but he has consistently thrown this back in our faces and chosen not to co-operate.

"Fone was also found in possession of apmphetamines. Again, we have offered him help to try to deal with his drug use problem via the Turnaround Team and he refused any help.

"Amphetamine use goes hand in hand with acquisitive crime. He steals to fund his habit. Also amphetamines are a stimulant which keeps users up all night."

Det Insp Nick Wilden said: "Fone has been a thorn in our side for some time. He has been in and out of prison all his adult life.

"He has 126 crimes against him and those are just the ones we know about. He is the kind of criminal we have been targeting because we know that until we have put them in prison they will keep on offending."

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 19 2013, 11:16AM

    I love the surname! Should have been called Terry

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  • realityzone  |  January 19 2013, 8:07AM

    " £ 40000 a year for a prison - how does that represent good value?" in fact its very good value when you deduct all the cost to victims, the police, the courts, additional insurance premiums etc which flow from having persistent criminals almost permanently at large. If people left off their filthy drug habits they would not be sent into custody. Simples

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  • Ant__  |  January 19 2013, 12:39AM

    this guy getting locked up will make no difference. The drug dealers will already have a new mug lined up to take his place and he'll be out there now stealing your property to pay for it. Until the government takes it's head out of it's ar** and starts to use expert scientific opinion to form policy instead of ingrained predjudice and pandering to the hangem flogem brigade, this cycle will continue. £40000 a year for prison - now does that really represent good value ?

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 18 2013, 8:57PM

    Realityzone hits a huge nail on the head. Who has benefited from this 10 year crime spree. Who has gained lots of well paid employment from the system. What this guy has stolen probably adds up to a small percentage of the wages handed out to lawyers, counsellers, judges, etc. Who makes the most, yes it's middle class public sector workers.

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  • TorbayOAP  |  January 18 2013, 8:20PM

    realityzone It is not an assumption its my observations after spending a life time working with criminals and the police.

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  • realityzone  |  January 18 2013, 6:34PM

    TorbayOAP I think your assumption is wrong. The fact is that all persistent offenders receive feeble sentencing now. There are several reasons for this. The Crime Prosecution Service is not fit for purpose and declines to take any case into court unless they feel absolutely certain of winning. This, in effect, makes them the judge and jury. Also Sentencing guidelines deter Magistrates and judges from sending people into custody. Part of that is because we just do not have enough prison places. In relation to the real levels of crimes, compared with say the 1960's we really should have 200k capacity for custody but it is hearer to 75k. Add to this the fact that it really does suit the legal profession to have revolving door justice, it generates on going employment from legally aided criminals.

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  • TorbayOAP  |  January 18 2013, 3:52PM

    realityzone Its not that the criminal justice system is to soft its that some people receive consistently lighter sentencing usually because they work for the police as informants, this offender has received consistently light sentencing over a long period we can only guess why, 95% of crime is committed by 5% of the offenders and in my experience it's this 5% of prolific offenders who work for the police as informants, if we are serious about cutting crime we have to reform the way the police gather information from informants.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 18 2013, 2:08PM

    Send this prolific offender to prison for six years and make him serve these six years in a drug free environment, I.e. not our current prisons. Make him work while he is in prison for any, even the slightest privilege, such as an hours Tv. Make him clean his own cell, and clean the toilet (the celebrity in the jungle lifestyle). Actually make prison a deterent. Then when he is let out, after the full six years tell him if he reoffends he is going straight back inside. See if he spends the next ten years reoffending.

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  • Ant__  |  January 18 2013, 1:57PM

    @Sidney He's now going to be in a prison cell paid for by YOU and will continue to cost YOU money until an intervention that stops his drug habit can be found to work. or .. How about free amphetamins. That might stop the crime spree. Got to cost less.

    |   -1
  • SidneyNuff  |  January 18 2013, 9:26AM

    Good to see our criminal justice system allows drug users to fund their drug habit for 10 years by stealing things off YOU. He also lived rent free, pair for by YOU. Free council tax, paid for by YOU. Tea and sympathy drug counselling, paid for by YOU. In fact everything he has YOU paid for or he stole it from YOU.

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