Bungling burglar in pushbike getaway

Scarborough Justice Centre
Scarborough Justice Centre

A boozed-up burglar stole £16,000 of rare guitars from a shop in Scarborough – and managed to damage the instruments beyond repair during his ill-fated getaway on a bicycle.

Steven Downes, 57, smashed his way into Guitar Galleries in Bar Street, waking up residents in neighbouring properties.

Neighbours watched the unfolding drama through their windows as Downes came out of the shop clutching five guitars which he placed in a bag, York Crown Court heard.

As he set off on his bike, neighbours called 999 and a police car was dispatched, said prosecutor Felicity Hemlin.

They caught up with Downes in an alleyway and seized the guitars, which were scratched and marked so badly they were not fit for resale, added the barrister.

She said the guitars, worth a combined £16,549, had to be written off.

Downes, of Southgate, Huddersfield, had earlier parked a car in the area into which he intended to transfer the guitars, added Ms Hemlin.

He had gone equipped with burglary tools including a screwdriver, torch, some WD40, a lock-pick, Allen keys and a face mask with a skull on.

Some of those items were seized from Downes when he was taken into custody.

He admitted burglary and going equipped, and appeared for sentence on Monday.

The court heard that at the time of the guitar-shop raid at 3.40am on January 16, Downes was subject to a three-year community order for possessing indecent images of children.

He also had a previous conviction for going equipped in March 2012, when he was jailed for nine months.

Defence barrister Chloe Fairley said Downes had had a major drink problem for over 20 years and had relapsed in January after being seriously injured in a pub attack in Scarborough.

She said Downes was “extremely drunk” at the time of the burglary and intended to sell the guitars because he had been struggling financially due to complications over his benefit payments.

Downes was given a 16-month jail sentence, but this was suspended for two years.