Prolific Islington burglar posed as window cleaner
PUBLISHED: 10:30 12 January 2016
A man from Islington who posed as a window cleaner to ransack businesses in central London stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods, has been jailed.
Robert Smythe, 54, of Dufferin Street, Bunhill, and his accomplice Tony Dudley, 40, of Horatio Street, Tower Hamlets, were on Monday sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty at a previous hearing.
The pair targeted office buildings in and around London in the early hours of the morning, donning hi-visibility work-wear, driving a van with window cleaning equipment as a cover for their illegal activities.
They would then force entry by using crowbars, other tools or simply forced their way into a property. They also used their ladders to climb up to windows above ground level to gain entry.
Once inside, they searched the offices stealing numerous items including computers and IT equipment.
The total costs of stolen property and damage was in excess of £100,000.
They were identified in relation to a burglary committed on October 1 in Mercer Street, Covent Garden.
Their van was stopped late on the evening of October 15, 2015, having just left Smythe’s address in Islington, and were arrested on suspicion of burglary.
In the van, police found various items including hi-visibility jackets with the words “Fire Warden” on them and hi-visibility gloves, crow bars, angle grinders and bolt croppers, which Smythe said was for the window cleaning jobs they were doing.
To back this up, they had a bucket of dirty water and a squeegee in the back of the van.
Suspecting the pair could be responsible for similar burglaries over the past year, police reviewed other offences in the area as well as surrounding areas and identified numerous other burglaries they could be linked to.
Using DNA taken from Smythe, CCTV images of the burglaries and vehicles used and number plate recognition techniques, detectives were able to link 23 separate burglary offences between June and October to the pair.
The total reported value of the items stolen goods was £70,786.46 and the damage caused was £34,260.88.
They were charged with Conspiracy to Burgle on 17th October 2015 and have been remanded in custody since.
DC Tony Holley, the officer in the case for Westminster CID, said: “This was a prolific series of burglaries by Smythe and Dudley across London.
“Smythe and Dudley were very considered in their criminal activities, operating in a methodical manner by intentionally appearing as legitimate overnight window cleaners then breaking in and calmly and thoroughly ransacking the offices.
“Many people think that crimes against businesses are victimless but some of these businesses are small with very tight margins and this sort of crime can be the difference between them succeeding and going under.”
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