A CAREER crook has admitted a 17-year crime spree during which he stole over £120,000 of property from homes across Leeds.
Prolific criminal Mark Harte was given a four-year jail term after owning up to offences dating back to 1997.
Harte confessed to police about 64 unsolved offences after he was arrested for breaking into a house on Gledhow Wood Road,
Leeds Crown Court heard Harte left a woman terrified after she woke up and found him searching her bedroom on the morning of March 9 this year.
Harte had already taken keys to two vehicles parked outside which were driven away. Jewellery and valuable musical instruments were also taken from the property.
Harte was arrested after he was seen on CCTV footage parking one of the cars stolen in the burglary outside flats at Cromwell Heights, Lincoln Green.
Cromwell had been involved in a police chase from the centre of Wakefield to Harehills in Leeds three days earlier. He had driven a van which was later found abandoned but left a mobile phone on the seat which contained his mother’s number.
Harte, of Copperfield Crescent, Richmond Hill, Leeds, pleaded guilty to one offence of burglary, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified, He asked for 64 other offences to be taken into consideration by the court.
The schedule of offences, dating between 1997 and March this year, included 20 house burglaries. The total value of property taken in the crime spree was £121,140.
The court heard Harte had decided to tell police about the offences in order to have a ‘clean slate’ upon his release from prison.
While in custody he had also co-operated with Home Office representatives about the way criminals committed offences.
Adrian Pollard, mitigating, said much of Harte’s offending was linked to drug abuse.
He said: “It is pretty soul destroying having to mitigate for Mr Harte because he has spent so much time in custody.”
He added: “It seems that everything he touches turns to disaster.”
Referring to the burglary offences, Recorder Dean Kershaw said: “It is an absolutely disgusting offence. People never feel safe. You will only ever know what it is like if you experience it.
“All the research indicates that people never feel safe ever again.”
Officers from the Leeds District Operation Converter team manage the ‘clean slate’ policy which offers prolific offenders the opportunity to admit offences that would otherwise remain undetected.
Alan Black, an investigator with Leeds Operation Converter team, said: “Harte’s case is one which again illustrates how we get prolific offenders to ‘wipe the slate clean’ by admitting other crimes that they have committed which we would never have sufficient evidence to charge them with.
“This brings some closure to victims to know that the person responsible has admitted the offence and has been dealt with by the justice system.
“Another positive aspect of our work with Harte is that he is now ready to engage with drugs workers to prepare him for his eventual release from prison. We hope he will take this opportunity to break his previous pattern of offending.”