A THIEF who ruined a family’s Christmas after stealing gifts from their car has been jailed.
Julian Cooper stole around £500 worth of gifts from a car in the early hours of Christmas Day as the victim slept.
The woman had hidden the presents in her car, which was parked outside a house on Henderson Street, Darlington, ready to surprise her family later that day.
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The wrapping paper in which the gifts were wrapped was later found at Cooper’s following a police search on New Year’s Eve.
An investigation by the Darlington Volume Crime Team (VCT) found the 31-year-old was responsible for several other offenses at Darlington.
He was arrested and charged with three counts of theft from a motor vehicle, two counts of interference with a vehicle and theft from a store.
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Cooper, of Clifton Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to the offenses and appeared in magistrates’ court, where he was jailed for 48 weeks.
His partner, Stephanie Johnston, 28, of Wesley Court, Darlington, has also been charged in connection with the incident.
She was released on bail pending a court hearing.
He joins another prolific Darlington thief who was also sentenced to 48 weeks in prison for six misdemeanors of interference with a vehicle and theft from a store.
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In the early hours of January 9 this year, Simon Robinson was caught on CCTV trying out the door handles of several cars parked at Greener Drive and Peverell Walk.
Footage captured on CCTV enabled a police officer to positively identify Robinson as the attacker, and he was arrested and charged with the offences.
The 38-year-old from Commercial Street, Darlington, admitted the offenses and was jailed by magistrates.
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Detective Sergeant Liam Robertson, of Darlington VCT, said: ‘We have received a number of reports of unsecured vehicle thefts in Darlington over the past few months and have been working very hard to resolve the issue.
“A tremendous amount of work has been done to identify and combat these offenders, and I am pleased that two of them are now behind bars for their actions.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people to always lock their doors when leaving their vehicle unoccupied and to remove all valuables.
“Vehicles left unattended with valuables exposed or unlocked are a prime target for opportunistic criminals who will try multiple car doors until they find one that has been left open. Don’t make it easy for them.
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