A PROLIFIC burglar has been jailed after a police dog handler caught him in the act.
Paul Yardley was filling his pockets with rings and earrings inside a bungalow in High Street, Findon, when PC Matt Songhurst, who was on patrol in the area with his dog Mitch, was alerted by neighbours to suspicious noises in the area and rushed to the scene, shortly before 6pm on February 4.
PC Songhurst spotted Yardley inside the home and raced to the back door. The sight of a barking Mitch, combined with the shouts of the officer, was enough to convince Yardley to drop to the floor and give himself up.
Yardley, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary when he appeared at Chichester Crown Court on March 27. The 29-year-old also admitted breaking into six homes in Medstead, Winchester, Wonston and Sutton Scotney, in Hampshire, as well as one in Warminster, Wiltshire – all between January 26 and February 2.
Yardley, who had 22 previous convictions for burglary, was jailed for four years and eight months.
Sussex Police launched Operation Magpie to tackle burglary across the county.
Inspector Di Lewis, the head of the Surrey and Sussex dogs unit, said: “Our dog teams are trained to use intimidation as a tactic to persuade offenders to comply, rather than the officers having to use violence or their animals to help control criminals so they can be arrested.
“PC Songhurst and Mitch used their training to perfection to corner the burglar and convince him he should give himself up without a fight.”
Detective Constable Duncan Peake, who led the burglary investigation, said: “Yardley is a serial burglar who showed regret once he was arrested but who would have continued to commit crime if he had not been caught.
“He had committed at least eight burglaries that we know of in just over a week which shows just how prolific he was and how many people were falling victim to him.”
Two men have also been charged over a burglary in Salvington Road, Worthing, on March 30. Billy Way, 25, of no fixed address, has been charged with burglary. Andrew Smith, 29, of Leominster Road, Portsmouth, has been charged with burglary, dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving while disqualified. Both are due to appear at Chichester Crown Court on April 24.