A THIEF who ruined a family’s Christmas after stealing presents from their car has been jailed.

Julian Cooper stole around £500 worth of presents from a car in the early hours of Christmas Day while the victim was asleep.

The woman had hidden the presents in her car, which was parked outside a house on Henderson Street, in Darlington, ready to surprise her family with later that day.

Read more: Protesters stage campaign outside Darlington MP Peter Gibson's office

The wrapping paper the presents were wrapped in was later found at Cooper’s house following a search carried out by police on New Year’s Eve.

An investigation by Darlington Volume Crime Team (VCT) found that the 31-year-old was responsible for several other offences in Darlington.

He was arrested and charged with three counts of theft from a motor vehicle, two counts of vehicle interference and theft from a shop.

Read more: Have you seen this man? Darlington Police appeal for man on recall to prison

Cooper, of Clifton Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to the offences and appeared at magistrates’ court, where he was jailed for 48 weeks.

His partner, 28-year-old Stephanie Johnston, of Wesley Court, Darlington, was also charged in connection with the incident.

She has been released on bail pending a court hearing.

He joins another prolific Darlington thief who has also been handed a 48-week prison sentence for six vehicle interference offences and theft from a shop.

Read more: Why dozens of people staged a protest outside Darlington MP's office yesterday

In the early hours of January 9 this year, Simon Robinson was caught on CCTV trying the door handles of several cars parked in Greener Drive and Peverell Walk.

The footage captured on CCTV enabled a police officer to positively identify Robinson as the offender, and he was arrested and charged with the offences.

The 38-year-old of Commercial Street, Darlington, admitted the offences and was jailed by magistrates.

Read more: What health chiefs say as new vaccine site opens in North East Covid hotspot

Detective Sergeant Liam Robertson, of Darlington VCT, said: “We have received a number of reports of thefts from insecure vehicles in Darlington over the last few months, and have been working really hard to tackle the issue.

“A significant amount of work has gone into identifying and tackling these offenders, and I am pleased that two are now behind bars for their actions.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind people to always lock their doors when leaving their vehicles unoccupied and remove all valuables.

“Vehicles left unattended with valuables left on display or unlocked are a prime target for opportunistic criminals who will try a number of car doors until they find one that has been left open. Don’t make it easy for them.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Darlington Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054