Two men sentenced to more than two years in jail for charity box thefts in Earls Colne and Sible Hedingham
Two men convicted of stealing six charity donation boxes from businesses in Earls Colne and Sible Hedingham have been sent to jail for more than two years.
Jamie Darby and Paul Batterbee admitted breaking into a hardware shop in High Street, Earls Colne, on April 4, before making off with five charity collection boxes.
Just 20 minutes later, the two men forced entry into the Co-Operative store in Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, and took another charity box, plus a quantity of cigarettes, worth a four-figure sum.
Essex Police were able to track a stolen vehicle used in the crimes to an address in Eastern Avenue, Haverhill.
When officers arrived at the property, they found the vehicle still warm, with a crowbar and gloves inside, while the address it was parked outside of was the only house on the road that still had its lights on.
Officers then carried out a search of the address and discovered empty charity boxes and cigarettes, leading to the arrest of Batterbee and Darby.
Darby, 39, of Westfield in Clare, and Batterbee, of Eastern Avenue in Haverhill, were both handed 27-month concurrent sentences for two counts of burglary when they appeared for a sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court last week.
Darby also received a one-month jail sentence, which will run consecutively to his 27-month term, for one count of theft of car keys and one charge of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
Speaking after the hearing, investigating officer Pc Leila Sandford, of Braintree CID, said: “Batterbee and Darby targeted two businesses in the early hours of the morning, before driving off with six charity boxes and a large amount of cigarettes in a stolen vehicle.
“Following some quick thinking, we were able to locate the vehicle to a street in Haverhill, before our officers’ intuition took over.
“Both men were arrested and the stolen charity boxes and cigarettes were discovered, simply because they left a light on in a dark street.
“They have both since been sent to prison for breaking into businesses and stealing the generous donations of their customers.”