Antony Wilks, 23, sneaked into the Community Arts Centre at St James Church on Seamer Road, where he stole £6,000 of brass and percussion instruments from the store room including a glockenspiel and tuba, York Crown Court heard.
The instruments belonged to the long-established Scarborough Concert Band, which performs open-air concerts on the Filey seafront and Peasholme Park and rehearses at the arts centre.
Malcolm Appleby, the band’s conductor, discovered the thefts and called police. However, he carried out his own detective work and traced the vast majority of the instruments to a local second- hand shop before police intervened. The shop had bought the instruments not realising they were stolen.
The thefts occurred in the band’s 50th anniversary year and leaders still have no idea how Wilks managed to walk out with so many instruments, including a euphonium and a pair of bongos.
Ms Gilmore said Wilks had strolled in and given the centre’s administrator a cock-and-bull story about wanting to book the venue for a family party, but then disappeared in the search for rich pickings.
The arts centre had had to beef up security since the thefts on July 9 last year.
But 11 days later, Wilks struck again, this time at the NHS audiology department in Springhill Close, where he snuck in and stole a handbag containing a purse, bank cards and medication from the cleaner’s cupboard while she was working.
Wilks headed straight for Salisbury Stores on Seamer Road, where he used the stolen cards for two fraudulent purchases of about £50.
Ms Gilmore said the prescription drugs inside the handbag were medication for the cleaner’s mother’s dementia and high blood pressure. The bag also contained the cleaner’s keys, her work diary, her mother’s bank card and bus pass.
Wilks, of Beaconsfield Street, Scarborough, was arrested after being identified him on CCTV. Police found a small amount of cannabis at his home and charged him with possessing a Class B substance, as well as burglary and bank-card fraud. He denied the fraud and burglary charges but admitted cannabis possession.
It’s understood he sold the instruments for £110 to a named man who in turn sold them to the charity shop.
Band leader Mr Appleby said he was “very distressed that someone could take something from the band which did so much for local charities”.
The named cleaner, who is a carer for her mother, said she now felt “uneasy” at work and had to take a month off with stress.
Following his arrest, Wilks was remanded in custody and was due to face trial before magistrates on two counts of burglary and two counts of fraud but didn’t turn up after refusing to leave his cell. He was found guilty of all charges in his absence.
However, he was later released on bail and went on to commit more offences, including handling a stolen electronic hymn machine belonging to St John’s Church in Cayton. The machine, worth £2,800, was stolen from the church in October last year.
On November 22, Wilks called round at a married couple’s home in Blenheim Terrace, Scarborough, posing as a postal-delivery worker. Somehow, he had got hold of a parcel addressed to the husband and wife and conned his way in to their flat by asking them to sign a document for the delivery.
Inside the flat, he stole a holdall belonging to the husband, containing his wallet, bank cards and a Filofax. The following day, Wilks used one of the cards at Costcutters on Ramshill Road and a local Cooplands bakery.
Six days later, the despicable confidence trickster was at it again: worming his way into a man’s home by masquerading as a housing association official. He stole the victim’s wallet containing bank cards and later used them to withdraw £300 from a cash point. The holdall was later found at Wilks’ address but the wallet, which had belonged to the victim’s World-War-One-veteran father, was never traced.
Wilks had a long criminal history with many convictions for shoplifting and assault. He had served suspended prison sentences for burglary, theft and fraud as recently as December 2017, of which the new offences were in breach.
Defence barrister Rod Hunt said Wilks now felt ashamed and his family had disowned him.
“They are as disgusted, as the public are, with his behaviour,” he added.
Judge Paul Worsley QC said Wilks’s “catalogue of mean offending” had resulted in victims “losing not only their wallets and bank cards, but personal, sentimental items that can never be replaced”.
Jailing Wilks for two-and-a-half years, he said the victims had been left feeling “anger and distress” and told Wilks: “You have left a trail of havoc behind which will remain with these people for a long time.”
Mr Appleby said afterwards he was “delighted” with the sentence, adding: “People like (Wilks) have no conscience.”