Crime victim Darren Vance turned detective to recover his stolen property when police told him they hadn’t had time to investigate.
The 43-year-old Doncaster businessman says the police handling of the burglary at his premises in Mexborough was a ‘farce’ and in the end he cracked the case by buying back his own property when he spotted it on the eBay auction site.
Mr Vance paid over the odds to make sure his bid was successful, then collected it from the seller and handed over the evidence to police before they finally investigated the case.
His amateur sleuthing ended in the conviction at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court of the Sheffield man who handled the gear stolen from the Leisuretech gaming machine firm on the Cliff Street industrial estate.
Kevin Johnson, 45, of Birley Moor Drive, Birley, denied the offence but was found guilty by District Judge Jonathan Bennett, who urged the prosecution to write to the commander of Doncaster police about their failings in the case. Johnson will be sentenced next month.
The court heard how masked burglars, who have never been traced, were filmed on CCTV breaking into Leisuretech at 10.30pm on August 13 last year.
They took two printers, a labelling machine and an electric drill, worth more than £500, and the next day two of the items appeared on eBay, placed by Johnson whose seller name was ‘depositformyfirsthouse’, said Brendan Glynn, prosecuting.
Mr Vance, said: “I had gone on holiday to Bridlington after the burglary and while there I looked on eBay. I could see the items were for sale so I got the seller’s details and rang the police.
“They said ‘leave it with us’. But when I got back from holiday I enquired and found nothing had been done.
“I bid £180 for the labeller, told the seller I would collect it and went to his house in Sheffield. I think they could have raided this man’s house and got more of my stuff. It’s been a farce all the way along the line. I’ve had to solve this case myself. It wouldn’t have got to court if it wasn’t for my efforts.”
Det Chf Insp Steve Whittaker said: “Police are looking into this matter and will review any processes accordingly. The force will also deal with any issues highlighted by the district judge or any complaint made by the victim.”
In court Johnson said he did a large amount of eBay trading and thought the printer and labeller were from car boot sales. He refused to accept the printer belonged to Mr Vance and said the evidence against him was ‘a sham’. The judge said Mr Vance “showed considerable determination and fortitude with little assistance from the police, for reasons I don’t understand.”
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