A PROLIFIC burglar who hit a charity twice in one night is behind bars with a judge's words ringing in his ears.

Repeat offender Robert Thornton was jailed for 16 months for the raids at Bike Stop Darlington on Skinnergate as well a burglary at Boots on High Row where he stole a pair of sunglasses.

The 37-year-old heroin addict was said to have been "extremely upset" when he learned one of his targets was a social enterprise which supports the homeless, people at risk of becoming homeless and those excluded from society.

At 4.30am on February 9, he climbed onto the roof, smashed a hole in the ceiling, took a £450 bike and bust the front door down to get away.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Thompson returned within two hours, went in through the door and took another cycle worth £650 – and sold them both for just £70.

Damage costing £2,400 to repair was also caused, and the shop had to close for the day and lose trade to preserve the crime scene

The December break-in at Boots was never detected, but he asked for it to be taken into consideration.

His barrister, Victoria Lamballe, said Thompson has struggled with a drug habit for 20 years, but hopes to seek help when he is freed from prison.

She told Judge Sean Morris: "He admits it will kill him if he can't overcome it. When he is substance-free, he has a desire to make fundamental changes to his life.

"He is genuinely ashamed of his actions. He was extremely upset to discover the bike shop was a social enterprise project. He had not appreciated that, and is aware of the value of such schemes."

The judge told Thompson, of Westbrook Villas, Darlington: "I understand you feel remorseful because of the nature of the shop.

"When you get out, the next time you feel the impulse to burgle remember that, because you don't know the consequences when you go burgling.

"Next time you burgle, there might be someone in there who has a heart attack and drops down dead."

Thompson, who has 97 previous offences on his "shocking" record, admitted two charges of burglary.