A NUISANCE burglar spotted stealing from a council recycling centre was lectured on the dangers of carrying knives after he was caught holding a lock knife – for the second time in six months.

Robert Green has 79 previous convictions for 68 thefts and was branded a “nuisance” as he was sentenced to four months and three weeks in prison.

The 34-year-old was caught carrying a lock knife when he was spotted climbing over the fence of a council run recycling centre in Hartlepool this July. He claimed he found the weapon in a skip whilst looking for items to steal, including an axe and a drone, and never intended to use it violently.

But a Teesside Crown Court judge refused to believe his story and lectured him on the “epidemic” of knife crime after it was revealed Green was arrested for carrying a four-inch lock knife in public in February.

Judge James Brown said: “He’s got a significant record, I would describe him as a nuisance. People carrying knives has reached epidemic proportion. It is very well saying he wouldn’t have used it violently but if you have a knife, you have the opportunity to use it.

“Possessing a knife in public is very serious. You allege when you committed the theft you found it in a skip a lock knife. I regard that suggestion with a degree of suspicion, bearing in mind some months earlier you were found in possession of a lock knife in public.

“The reason why parliament has said if someone carrying a knife once, give them a chance, but if they do it again it indicates they have not complied and they regularly carry knives. I suspect this is a usual set of circumstances for you.

“Knife possession and knife crime is now epidemic. Carrying knives is completely unacceptable.”

Green, of Nottingham Walk, Hartlepool, was sentenced to 147 days in prison after he admitted one count of theft and possession of a sharp object.

The court heard the 34-year-old handed the lock knife over to police following his arrest and is also charged with criminal damage.