A PERSISTENT thief and burglar fell for a police ‘trap’ and broke into a vehicle to steal a lap-top computer.

Unknown to Grant Royal, the lap-top was deliberately left on the front passenger seat of a parked BMW in full view of passers-by in a residential area of Belmont, Durham.

Durham Crown Court heard the car was purposefully positioned in Lancashire Drive so that it was covered by CCTV cameras, which caught the moment Royal struck, smashing a window and grabbing the lap-top, at 6.10pm, on January 25.

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Royal, who was on bail following another theft from a car, on December 12, initially made denials when arrested, but finally admitted theft when the case went before magistrates, in February.

The 38-year-old, from Cunningham Place, Gilesgate, Durham, also admitted theft and going equipped for theft, arising from the December 12 incident.

As Royal was subject of a suspended 12-month prison sentence, imposed last April for a burglary at Durham University Law Department, as well as being in breach of a more recent community order, the magistrates committed the case to Durham Crown Court for sentence.

Graeme Gaston, prosecuting, told the crown court sentencing hearing that Royal was arrested after police found him hiding in a garden in the vicinity of Cunningham Place, having discarded a screw driver.

A lap-top case, minus the contents, was recovered in the area by police, who discovered it was taken from a Vauxhall Astra, parked in nearby Long Acres, earlier that evening.

Ros Scott Bell, mitigating, said Royal wanted to apologise to those people affected by his crimes.

She said he needed the money to meet a rent payment for his home, fearing his mother would, otherwise, be left to foot the bill.

Miss Scott Bell added that Royal has hopes of a job as a wet fish salesman on his release from prison.

Jailing Royal for a total of 17 months, including nine months of the suspended sentence, Judge Christopher Prince told him: “You have been a persistent offender, targeting people’s houses, property and motor vehicles.

“You can’t suggest these latest incidents were ‘impulsive’.”

Judge Prince added that an “aggravating feature” of the latest offences was the fact they were in breach of the suspended sentence and community orders.