Police praise South Yorkshire ranger for helping catch burglar

Curtis Smith, from Cudworth, who was jailed for burgling a home in Catcliffe
Curtis Smith, from Cudworth, who was jailed for burgling a home in Catcliffe
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A PARK ranger whose expert local knowledge helped police to catch a burglar hiding out in a South Yorkshire wood has been honoured for his efforts.

Dad-of-two James McGivern, aged 55, was presented with a Commander’s Commendation for helping to apprehend Curtis Smith hiding in Howell Wood in Brierley, Barnsley.

James McGivern, 55, from Brierley, received a Commanders Commendation for his help in catching a bogus caller hiding out in Howell Wood in Brierley.

James McGivern, 55, from Brierley, received a Commanders Commendation for his help in catching a bogus caller hiding out in Howell Wood in Brierley.

Smith, aged 21, of Cudworth, had gone into hiding after burgling a house in Nursery Drive, Catcliffe, Rotherham, last December.

He and another man - Sailey Price, 36, a traveller from Barnsley - would con their way into the homes of vulnerable people by making them think they were there to carry out roof repairs.

A series of offences was committed across five counties, and property, cash and jewellery worth over £15,000 was stolen.

Police investigating the Catcliffe raid received a tip-off Smith was involved and was hiding in a tent in Howell Wood.

But because of its size they asked park ranger James McGivern for locations in the woods where a tent could be pitched.

He assisted - and then drove officers around the woods where they found Smith’s tent.

PC Mick Fletcher said: “Had it not have been for Mr McGivern’s expert knowledge of Howell Wood and his enthusiasm to help officers on the day, this investigation could have been seriously hindered.”

Mr McGivern, from Brierley, Barnsley, was presented with a certificate for his help during a ceremony at Rotherham Main Street Police Station, attended by his wife Sam and his two children, five-year-old Darragh and four-year-old Meibh.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin said: “Mr McGivern’s action is an excellent example of the public playing their part in helping reducing crime.

“The offences committed by the offender is one which targets some of our most vulnerable communities and with Mr McGivern’s efforts we have ensured the offender will not present a risk to our communities for a long time.”

Smith later pleaded guilty to the offence in Catcliffe, and was jailed in October for five years after three other offences were also taken into account.

Price was also locked up for five years.