TWO prolific burglars who preyed on Thatcham homeowners have been jailed.
It was the pair’s third conviction each for housebreaking and one of their victims gave an emotional account of the trauma she suffered at their hands, which was read out at Reading Crown Court on Friday, October 6.
In the dock were Mark ‘Sparky’ Lewington and Peter Michael Cripps, both of no fixed address.
The court heard that on July 28, Gillian Richards left her home in Grassmead, Thatcham, to visit her daughter. When she returned, her French windows had been forced and an Acer laptop was missing.
The following day the pair targeted the home of Clive Kimber and his wife in Turners Drive, Thatcham.
The Kimbers were dismayed on arriving home to find it had been ransacked and that, among hundreds of pounds worth of jewellery and electronic goods stolen was a priceless family heirloom – a First World War medal awarded to Mrs Kimber’s grandfather.
The medal, plus a diamond engagement ring that was also stolen, has never been recovered.
Cripps, aged 37, and Lewington, aged 27, were caught after they tried to steal a Jaguar XK from the Kimbers’ garage and a dashboard security device recorded Cripps referring to his accomplice by his nickname, Sparky.
When police went to an address where they had been holed up, they both ran for it, but were later arrested.
The pair gave “no comment” interviews, but subsequently admitted the burglaries.
Both are drug addicts and have lengthy criminal records, including two previous convictions each for home burglaries.
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Kimber said the intrusion had “knocked me for six”.
She added: “It’s the thought that they have been in our house and been through our things, including photos of our grandchildren.
“I feel anxious and won’t stay in the house when Clive’s away.
“I don’t want to be in the house when I’m on my own.
“An important family heirloom and irreplaceable jewellery were stolen."
David Dainty, for Cripps, said it was to his client’s “great credit” that he had successfully weaned himself off Class A controlled drugs.
He added: “He had been sofa-surfing with friends and had no income whatsoever, so he did what he now recognises was an incredibly stupid thing.”
Michael Harrison, for Lewington, handed the judge a letter his client had written, in which he claimed he had “got in with the wrong crowd and got dragged along”.
The judge, Recorder Michael Heslop QC, said the pair each had “appalling records” for burglary and that Lewington, in particular, had a habit of re-offending while on early release from previous jail sentences.
He told them: “Both of you represent a high risk to the public, and the public needs protection. There was a significant degree of loss to the victims.”
Cripps and Lewington were each jailed for a total of four-and-a-half years.