Cat burglar caught after leaving fingerprint

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A YOUNG woman who switched from shoplifting to burglary for the first time was caught when she left a fingerprint behind, a Doncaster court heard.

Samantha Jane Gartside, described as a “professional shoplifter” by a judge at Doncaster Crown Court, used her slight frame to slip through an open window and let accomplices into a house in Balby in May this year.

The occupier of the house in Burton Avenue had heard a noise at 7.30am but thought no more about it, said Neil Coxon, prosecuting.

But when he came down an hour later he discovered the front door open and his 42in television, a £500 laptop computer and a £300 mobile phone had been stolen, along with his wallet and bank cards.

Police were called and the scenes of crime officers who checked the property initially found no evidence.

But a short time later the householder remembered having left a small window open and a fingerprint was lifted from it, which led to the arrest of Gartside a fortnight later, said Mr Coxon.

The 21-year-old, of Surrey Street, Balby, pleaded guilty to the burglary when she appeared before magistrates the next day.

Mr Coxon said the victim was very upset because it was the second time he had had property stolen from him in the space of a year.

Gartside’s record showed 38 previous offences - 17 for shop theft but none for burglary.

Her barrister, Michael Upson, said it was her first offence of burglary and there had been no ransacking or damage at the house.

“She went through the window and opened the door for others who she was with. She knows she is in jeopardy of custody.”

Mr Upson said Gartside was addicted to drugs and alcohol and it was no surprise that her offending was linked to that. She would probably benefit from some counselling “and the public would be better served by that,” he said.

He added she had also been affected by the death of her mother in March, from whom she had been estranged and had only recently re-established contact before she died.

Sentencing Gartside to an 18-week prison term, suspended for two years, Recorder William Lowe, QC, said burglary normally leads to prison but if she went there straight away she would be released without support.

There were benefits to her and society if she was placed under supervision.

The judge also imposed a six- month curfew from 6pm to 6am and prohibited her from going within a 500m radius of the Mansion House for the same period.