Jailed for robbing the blind

Jason Thomas, imprisoned for three years over a spate of burglaries.
Jason Thomas, imprisoned for three years over a spate of burglaries.

A SERIAL burglar who stole charity boxes filled with cash intended for cancer patients, blind people and neglected animals has been locked up for three years.

Jason Thomas - who has previous convictions for 136 prior offences - admitted breaking into two veterinary practices, a chip shop and an Indian restaurant, swiping charity boxes full of shoppers’ donations and money from tills.

He also asked for six more break-ins - at two bakeries, a hair salon, two Chinese takeaways and a curry house - to be taken into consideration.

At Roses Bakery in Millhouses he smashed his way into charity boxes full of cash intended for Sheffield charity Cavendish Cancer Care and Global Cancer Care.

Manageress Rachel Andrew said his three year jail term was “brilliant”.

Det Chf Insp Zaf Ali, who oversees acquisitive crime offences for South Yorkshire Police, told The Star: “To steal from charity really is the lowest of the low.”

At Dore and Totley veterinary surgery, where Thomas stole two collection boxes intended for animal charities, head vet James Farrell said: “We’re happy with the justice that’s been served. The theft meant homeless dogs suffered due to a lack of funds.”

Rotherham animal charity Rain Rescue was one of the organisations whose collection box was stolen.

The charity’s founder Jacquie Neilson said: “The jail sentence is good. This kind of theft discourages retailers from taking on charity boxes, which not only loses us donations but has a long term impact when it comes to finding homes for animals.”

Sheffield Crown Court heard Thomas, aged 39, of West View Lane, Totley, went on a six-week crime spree, breaking into businesses in Totley, Millhouses, Abbeydale and Fulwood.

Judge Alan Goldsack QC said his campaign of break-ins was ‘serious offending by a man with a dreadful record’.

David Wain, prosecuting, told the court Thomas broke into Dore and Totley Vets on November 15 last year, smashing in a door panel and taking £10 from two animal charity boxes, as well as £60 from the till.

He also stole a £400 laptop and caused £200 of damage.

A fortnight later he broke into Highfield Vets on London Road, raiding three more collection boxes for animal charities and causing £500 of damage.

Days later he took money from a Royal Society for the Blind donation box at the Abbey Friar chip shop on Abbeydale Road. Mr Wain said he left blood ‘everywhere’ at the scene after cutting himself on glass.

Thomas was finally arrested when he burgled The Mohul Indian restaurant in Totley on December 10. Police were on patrol because of the spate of burglaries, and Thomas was recognised as being wanted for the Abbey Friar break-in.

He admitted four burglaries, stealing £1,178 in total and causing £2,408 of damage. The court heard he committed his first burglary in 1986 aged just 15.

DCI Ali told The Star: “We’re used to dealing with thieves who steal to feel drug habits, but for this series of offences the victims were not the businesses he targeted but the charities whose collection boxes he took, and the vulnerable and needy who rely on those charities.

“Another consequence of this type of crime is that shops might reconsider having charity boxes if they think there’s a risk they could be broken into for them.”

Richard Adams, defending, told the court Thomas had been trying to get money to feed his drug habit and said jailing him would risk him becoming ‘institutionalised’.

But Judge Goldsack told Thomas: “Only a reasonably substantial sentence will both punish you and protect the public.

“The sympathy has to go to the victims of your numerous offences.”

October

The Hair Bar, Abbeydale Road South

November

Dore and Totley Vets, Baslow Road

Roses the Bakers, Abbeydale Road

Roses the Bakers, Ecclesall Road South

Diamond Chinese, Fulwood Road

Paprikas Indian takeaway, Brooklands Avenue, Fulwood

Highfield Vets, London Road

December

Abbey Friar chip shop, Abbeydale Road

Chans Chinese, Abbeydale Road

The Mohul Indian restaurant, Baslow Road