A bungling serial burglar was tracked down following his latest break-in after he left his mobile phone at the crime scene.
Derby Crown Court recently heard how Leon Jacques, of Grasmere Close, Chesterfield, raided a widower’s house and stole jewellery belonging to the victim’s deceased wife.
Jacques also kicked a safe free of its mountings before taking it along with £3,200 in cash which was inside.
However, the 29-year-old father-of-two dropped his phone in the bedroom of the house and police linked it to Jacques who has five previous convictions for burgling houses.
Judge Nirmal Shant QC told Jacques: “Mr Jacques, you are no stranger to the courts and it is sad to see you wasting your life away burgling people’s homes and causing them such extreme distress.
“You took jewellery that belonged to the victim’s late wife - something that can’t be replaced and which caused him considerable distress.
“It means nothing to you but everything to him and you have taken it away from him.
“I believe there was a degree of planning because you were able to identify that the property was unoccupied and you were able to deal with a safe that was in a cupboard and screwed down to the floor.”
Andrew Tanser, prosecuting, said the break-in took place on February 17 when the victim had gone away for a night on business.
He said his son called the following day to tell him the house had been broken into and when the victim got home he saw the patio doors had been smashed and the house was ransacked.
Mr Tanser said: “There had been an untidy search and a safe that was in a cupboard in the bedroom had been taken. A number of items that held close sentimental value to the victim were taken including his late wife’s jewellery.
“Also taken was £3,200 in cash inside the safe, a debit card, a Kindle, a laptop and a passport. It was when the victim was tidying up that he found a mobile phone which police analysed and linked to the defendant because there were a large number of text messages to it from his partner.”
Jacques was arrested and gave “no comment” answers in his interview but he later pleaded guilty to burgling the house in Lilac Street, Chesterfield.
The court was told that, at the time of the offence, he was on licence for a burglary that saw him handed a 54-month prison term for two burglaries in Leicestershire.
Mr Tanser outlined the Jacques’s previous convictions since 2006. They totalled seven burglaries and a further 26 offences that had been taken into consideration.
Dan Church, defending, said his client was married with children aged seven and five and he has an 11-year-old stepson.
Mr Church said: “He started smoking cannabis at the age of 10 and taking heroin at the age of 15. He was released on licence from his last sentence and fell into his old habits.
“When he is released, he is motivated not to spend the rest of his life in custody.”
Judge Shant QC jailed Jacques for 39 months for his latest offence.