Builder stole from Leeds pub day after he was sacked
A builder who had been sacked from his job broke into the pub where he had been working and stole a £140 tip jar to fund his cocaine habit.
Scott Ruecroft, 44, broke into the Black Bull pub in Horsforth, just after midnight on April 4, and stole the tip jar which was behind the bar, before making his getaway.
Leeds Crown Court heard how Ruecroft, who has 44 previous convictions for 101 offences, had been working as a builder renovating some flats above the pub and therefore knew how to gain access to the Black Bull as well as the alarm code for the building.
Prosecuting Andrew Horton said: "There was a boarded window which allowed access through an internal door to the pub. The defendant had been employed as a workman up until two days before when he was sacked.
"On April 3, the landlady had put the tip jar behind the bar. Just after midnight on April 4, the defendant entered through the internal door and turned off the alarm. He grabbed the tip jar before setting the alarm as he left.
"He was identified from the clothes he was wearing after staff checked the CCTV."
Ruecroft, of Cottingley Drive, Beeston, admitted the burglary and said he needed the money to buy drugs. He appeared in court on June 6, but left before his case had been dealt with and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
While wanted, Ruecroft broke into the Future Einsteins Nursery in Morley shortly after midnight on August 14.
He gained entry by using a rock to smash the glass door, before cutting CCTV cables. Once inside he stole a small amount of money and an iPhone, but he was stopped in his tracks by police.
Officers searched him and found a BB gun in his front pocket, as well as a retractable Stanley knife.
Mr Horton said: "He knew he had the weapons with him but said he had no intention of using them or threatening anyone with them.
"This is someone with an extensive criminal record. He is a professional burglar."
Ruecroft told police he had been having difficulties with universal credit and had been struggling for food.
He pleaded guilty to burglary and aggravated burglary.
In mitigation, Michael Walsh said Ruecroft had found himself in "strained financial circumstances".
Mr Walsh said: "He had not claimed the appropriate benefit and would get food from the food bank.
"He was not paying his rent and had no income and just received food to survive.
"Old habits die hard and he embarked on these two enterprises."
Sentencing Ruecroft to three years in prison, His Honour Judge Mairs said: "You claim financial hardship, yet you stole from those who were least able to afford it."