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Burglar who raided block of flats caught by tenant's webcam

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 08, 2014

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Exeter Crown Court

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A burglary victim turned detective and used his webcam to catch a neighbour who was raiding bedsits in his block of flats.

Thomas Brook was recorded as he broke into an upstairs flat and searched drawers before sneaking out with an X Box game.

He was recorded secretly by fellow tenant Craig Tustin who used the webcam on his computer to monitor his room while he was out at work.

Brook, 22, who was kicked out of the bedsit in Exmouth and moved into a tent, admitted burglary, breach of a restraining order and having a knife in a public place.

He was jailed for 16 months by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC at Exeter Crown Court. The Judge told him: ”You need to keep out of trouble in the future. You are still young but if you carry on like this you will spend your life going in and out of jail.”

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said tenants in the four other bedsits in the block of flats at Albion Street, Exmouth, started noticing items going missing after he moved in earlier this year.

He said: ”Mr Tustin occupied the flat on the top floor and to tried to find who was carrying out the thefts he bought a webcam which he set up on the computer in his room.

“On the day in question he left the webcam running and when he returned at 5pm he noticed items had been moved in the room and so he watched the footage.

“It ran for some four hours and towards the end he saw the defendant opening the door with some sort of tool or knife and going to a chest of drawers where he took an X Box game worth £7 or £8 before leaving the room.”

Mr Richings said Brook had also been involved in an incident at his former partner Rebecca Rowlands’ home in Gibson Close, Exmouth, in which he breached a restraining order by visiting the house, kicking the door and pelting the windows with stones.

A knife with a three inch blade was found in a holdall which he left near the front door after police were called.

He said Brook has a previous conviction for stealing a television in a dwelling house burglary on a neighbour’s home in Greenway, Crediton, when he was living there in 2012.

Mr Greg Richardson, defending, said Brook had owned up and admitted his guilt and had already learned a salutary lesson from the time he has spent in prison awaiting sentence.

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