A PROLIFIC crook is back behind bars after he was caught trying to break into a family house – and claimed he was searching for the “old folk’s home”.

Ricky Don Elliott has committed more than 170 offences spanning the last three decades and has shown a constant disregard for the law.

The 44-year-old is now back in familiar surroundings, inside a prison cell, after he was this week convicted of burglary, attempted burglary, going equipped and vehicle interference at Newcastle Crown Court.

Elliott, of Collingwood Drive, Shiney Row, appeared in the dock on Monday (October 19) and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Detective Chief Inspector Michelle Robson, of Northumbria Police, said: “Elliott has been a drain on our resources for some time and has consistently undermined the criminal justice system and shown little care for the welfare of others.

“He has committed crime after crime across Wearside and made life a misery for many of his victims and the wider community.

“We are determined to keep taking prolific criminals such as Elliott off our streets and we are pleased that the severity of his crimes have been recognised through this custodial sentence.

“We make no apology for our robust approach towards serial offenders and we will continue to use every tactic at our disposal to put seasoned criminals before the courts.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, added: “This is a man who time and time again has failed to see the error of his ways.

"There’s no doubt that his crimes over the years will have had a devastating impact on his victims and the local communities he’s targeted.

"It’s only right that he’s facing the consequences of his actions behind bars. Thanks to the great work of the officers involved in fighting crime like this, the streets of Wearside are safer without him.”

Elliott’s latest criminality saw him target a family home in Penshaw on July 2 where he was caught on CCTV trying a front door, before realising a metal bar on the inside prevented it from opening more than a couple of inches.

After hearing a noise, the occupants went to investigate – and found a sheepish Elliott at their front door. The shameless raider went on to claim he was looking for the “old folk’s home” before swiftly fleeing the area.

He was also caught on camera moments earlier trying the door of a BMW parked on the driveway.

With the victim contacting police, officers were deployed and set about locating Elliott - and spotted him later that day walking near his Shiney Row home carrying a blue bag, which he promptly discarded in a bush.

He was placed under arrest and officers soon located the bag which contained a small crow bar, a large chisel and a pair of white and pink fluffy socks.

Elliott admitted attempted burglary, going equipped and vehicle interference when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, as well as a separate offence of burglary relating to a theft of a staff member’s handbag at Pizza Box in Shiney Row.

He was subsequently jailed for two years.