Leeds University burglar stole over £30,000 worth of computers which contained students' 'vital' coursework

A woman who stole over £30,000 worth of computers during a series of break-ins at Leeds University has been jailed for three years.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:46 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 8:16 am

Students lost vital specialist degree course work which was stored on the software at the time of the raids.

Leeds Crown Court heard Irena Seresova was captured on CCTV as she carried out offences on three occasions at the university's Priestly Building.

Martin Robertshaw, prosecuting, said the first burglary took place in December 2019.

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Burglar Irena Seresova stole over £30,000 worth of computers from Leeds University.

A comprehensive CCTV system had been put in place at the time of the offence following a spate of break-ins at the university.

Seresova was seen forcing a door to get into the building.

She stole a guitar, which belonged to a student and was worth £800, as well as computer equipment.

Mr Robertshaw said the items have never been recovered.

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She was released on bail but carried out a further burglary at the university with another man on February 22 last year.

Seresova and the man, who she later refused to identify, used wire cutters to remove 25 computers worth £25,000.

Mr Robertshaw said: "Significantly, those computers contained specialist work programmes which were vital for the students to complete their degrees.

"Clearly that caused a lot of upset and inconvenience to the students.

"None of those computers have ever been recovered."

A third burglary took place during lockdown on May 15 last year.

Seresova and the man forced entry to the building before searching a staff area used by lecturers.

Computers worth £8,000 were stolen.

The defendant admitted responsibility for the offences when she was arrested on June 23.

The court heard Seresova has a previous convictions for burglary at the university.

She was given a suspended for that offence by magistrates in January this year.

John Batchelor, mitigating, said Seresova committed the offences when she was homeless and needed money.

Mr Batchelor said his client is now in settled accommodation and is three months pregnant.

Sentencing, Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC said: "These offences show a degree of sophistication in a sense that the university was targeted by you and others because they had high value goods there and you identified the security weaknesses to carry out the offences.

"This is, in my judgement, repeated serious offending. You have continued to offend in this way for a number of years."