A WOULD-be thief who targeted parked vehicles at Teesside Park was caught after security staff spotted wandering around while carrying a knife.

Shaun Nixon was caught on CCTV attempting to break into a van parked at the rear of Boots at the out-of-town retail park in the early hours of the morning on November 26 last year.

A security guard approached Nixon and he was spotted throwing away a knife as he fled the scene.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said: "He was seen by a security officer, it was obvious that he was carrying a knife, he was seen to approach the van and use the knife to try to force entry to the vehicle.

"He was challenged by one of the officers and was seen to throw the knife down an embankment towards the river."

Miss Masters told Teesside Crown Court that a search of CCTV showed the defendant trying to gain access to parked vehicles four days earlier.

The knife was later recovered by police investigating the offences.

Nixon, of Dunblane Close, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article and vehicle interference.

Michele Turner urged the judge to give her client a chance to continue to turn his life around and continue his drug treatment.

In mitigation, she said: "He was given access to drug treatment service and housing. He was given that in November and it's fair to say that this was a blip.

"He was back using street drugs again and he lost a close friend to his use of street drugs – that was what was behind his fall from grace for those offences."

Miss Turner said Nixon was continuing with his methadone programme to clear him of his heroin addiction.

Judge Paul Watson QC passed an eight month sentence, suspended for 12 months.

"I accept you weren't using the knife in any violent context," he said. "I have seen the knife and it is a particularly hideous weapon, if someone had approached you with the weapon you had, who knows what would have happened.

"You have been making real progress in relation to your drug addiction. It is clear however from your record the underlying factor behind the excessive list of previous convictions."