Bungling burglar locked in

Pete Stentiford outside Whitby Rugby Club
Pete Stentiford outside Whitby Rugby Club

A burglar was caught red-handed after he was discovered in the act – and found himself locked inside the premises he was raiding.

The fire escapes and the front door of Whitby Rugby Club were blocked by manager Peter Stentiford to trap the hooded thief that he heard inside, until police officers arrived on the scene.

Craig Hall, 37, of of St Andrew’s Road, Whitby, is now locked up again – in jail.

Mr Stentiford told the Whitby Gazette: “An alarm was triggered at 6.45am and I was on the premises three minutes later where I discovered a man behind the bar.

“I could hear him talking and assumed he was with at least one other person so I decided to lock the front doors to trap them inside and dial 999.

“I went to the rear of the premises to block the fire escapes, which would have been the only way out of the building, and waited for the police to arrive.”

Mr Stentiford said he initially assumed that he was merely responding to a false alarm but was stunned to discover a figure behind the bar helping himself to staff wages and a charity collection box.

“I couldn’t believe someone had broken into the club,” he added.

“My first thought was ‘how dare you?’ I thought it best just to trap him inside because what I wanted to do to him would probably have got me in trouble.”

The raid has left a sour taste in the mouth of the club’s members who are dismayed that not even a community facility is safe from criminals.

“This club is a non-profit organisation and exists solely to provide the local community with sporting facilities,” Mr Stentiford continued.

“It disgusts me that someone would target us and try and steal from us.

“I think the fact that this individual was caught in possession of an RNLI charity collection box that he took off the bar says a lot about his character.

“I know that a lot of local properties have been burgled recently so it’s nice to have caught one of the people doing it.”

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that a 37-year-old man was arrested at Whitby Rugby Club on Monday morning and charged with burglary.

Craig Hall, of St Andrew’s Road, Whitby appeared at Scarborough Magistrates Court on Wednesday and was sentenced to eight weeks in prison to run consecutively with an exisiting 15-week suspended sentence.

Mr Stentiford was full of praise for the police’s swift response to his 999 call.

He added: “I have to say that the police were excellent. Even though we’ve had a few instances of false alarms at the club in the past they were here in a matter of minutes.

“I was still on the phone to them when the officers arrived to make the arrest.

“It is reassuring that when you need their help the police can respond so quickly.”