Sheffield burglar hid camera pen to find Starbucks safe combination

Jailed: Michael White has a string of criminal convictions.
Jailed: Michael White has a string of criminal convictions.
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IT sounds like something out of a James Bond movie...

A criminal mastermind planting a camera pen in an office to capture the combination of a safe.

But bungling junkie Michael White’s plot was foiled and he has now been jailed for 16 months.

White, aged 38, crept into the office quarters of a Starbucks in Tudor Square, Sheffield city centre, and planted the camera pen in a pot positioning it opposite the safe, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Bev Tait, prosecuting, said White was caught by a member of staff lurking in an area of the coffee shop which was not open to the public.

He was marched out of the shop and staff later discovered the pen.

Miss Tait said he was caught by distinctive scars and tattoos on his hands seen on footage recorded by the pen as he put it in the pot.

The prosecution said he or others had planned to come back and steal the contents of the safe. White admitted burglary with intent.

Ian West, defending White, of Bramwell Street, Netherthorpe, Sheffield, said it was a ‘clumsy, ill-thought out offence’.

He said it was ‘highly unlikely’ White would have been able to get the combination number because of the mechanics of the safe.

Mr West said White was struggling with a history of addiction to Class A drugs adding: “He was put up to do this to clear an old drug debt.”

The court heard White had 13 previous convictions for burglary and was on licence at the time of the offence, having just been released from jail for a previous break-in.

Jailing him for 16 months, Judge Alan Goldsack QC said: “You had a choice whether to get involved or not.

“This was clearly a quite deliberate attempt to set up a burglary to be committed by you or someone else and involved the taking of the money that was in the safe in the private part of this building.

“You had left what looked like a pen, which was in fact a camera device, to find out the number of the passcode on the safe when someone operated it.

“This was about as premeditated a burglary as one could have.”