A PAIR of professional criminals were caught red-handed trying to break into a bingo hall to target its “rich pickings”.
Police were called to Mecca Bingo, Balm Road, Hunslet, Leeds, after the alarm was triggered when Stephen Littler and Shaun Murphy tried to crowbar their way into the premises.
They were wearing balaclavas and gloves and had screwdrivers and iron bars.
A trolley jack capable of lifting two tonnes was also found nearby.
Both men tried to flee the scene and Murphy was injured as he was bitten in a struggle with a police dog.
Leeds Crown Court heard the men had driven across from Manchester where they both live to target the premises when they were caught at around 3.40am on April 12 this year.
Both men pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.
Ewan McLachlan, prosecuting, said Littler had a lengthy criminal record for commercial burglary.
In previous offences he had removed alarm boxes and extractor fans as gaming machines were targeted. Murphy has made 38 previous court appearances for 178 offences.
Tom Birkby, for Murphy, 33, said his client had been unable to work since the incident as a result of the dog bite.
He said: “He recognises that what he did was not only wrong, but seriously stupid given that he has a lot to lose.
The court heard Littler, 36, led a “normal” family life and his four children were devastated at him going to prison.
Judge Batty jailed Littler for two years, five months, and Murphy for two years, two months.
He told them: “You two are natives of the Manchester area. In April this year you travelled over in the dead of night to Leeds to take as much money as you could from the Mecca bingo hall.
“Undoubtedly it had been targeted because of where it was – out of the city centre and therefore out of the hubbub of town at that time of night.
“It was targeted no doubt because of the rich pickings you hoped would be there.”
He added: “This is professional offending.”