Career burglars terrified Leeds families during spree of night time raids

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TWO career burglars terrified Leeds homeowners and children during a series of night time raids.

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Craig Bower and Michael McHale were each jailed for six years after a court heard how they targeted homes in order to steal cars, high value electrical items and bank cards.

The judge who sentenced the defendants rejected claims that the break-ins had been unplanned "opportunistic" offences committed to fund their addiction to drugs.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "They were not opportunistic burglaries.

"No one goes out at 5am opportunistically burgling people.

"People who go out breaking into houses at 5am have thought about it."

Sentencing the pair, the judge added: "The safety and protection of the public is to be considered first and foremost by these courts."

Bower and McHale burgled homes in the West Leeds area between May 19 and July 1 this year.

A house on Wharfedale Close, Bramley, was targeted at 5.20am and the property owner was woken by the sound of breaking glass.

Lap tops, a mobile phone and a camera worth £1,000 was stolen.

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One of the men returned to the house an hour later as the victim was waiting for police to arrive.

A house in West Park was broken into in the early hours of 5am as a woman was at home with her children.

Car keys and a bank card was taken which was used at a shop later the same day.

A house on Warrels Avenue, Bramley, was burgled and a bank card taken which was later used at a Bargain Booze store.

The pair stole a VW Polo after forcing their way into another home as family members were all in bed.

Jewellery and cash were taken during a break-in at a house on Ganners Close, Bramley, on June 27.

A Volvo was also during a burglary at a house on Warrels Place.

Some of the stolen items were recovered when the men were arrested on July 7.

McHale assaulted two police officers as he was arrested.

Bower, of Snowden Lane, Bramley, pleaded guilty to five offences of burglary, three of theft, two of fraud and attempted burglary.

McHale, of Broadlea Street, Bramley, pleaded guilty to three offences of burglary, two of theft, two of fraud, two of handling stolen goods, two of assaulting a police officer and attempted burglary.

Lawyers for the defendants said the offences were committed to fund heroin addiction.

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