Scarborough serial burglars caught in woman's home, one unplugging X-Box and one with tea towel on his head

A horrified Scarborough woman returned home to find two burglars inside her home – one unplugging an X-Box games console and the other emerging from her kitchen wearing a tea towel on his head.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 10:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 10:29 am

The victim had just nipped out to the shops but before she returned, “professional” burglars Robert Horner and Robert Oakley had sneaked into her two-storey terraced house in Trafalgar Street while her young daughter was upstairs in her room, York Crown Court heard.

The notorious Scarborough pair - who have at least 38 burglary convictions between them - walked in through a closed but unlocked door and Horner went straight for the X-box in the living room, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

When the woman returned home at about 2pm on April 16, Horner was kneeling next to an X-box games machine and unplugging the cable.

Robert Alan Horner.

“She asked him what he was doing,” added Mr Galley.

“(Horner) said, ‘I’m helping him.’”

By “him”, he meant his partner-in-crime Oakley, who was busy rummaging around the kitchen.

Horner put the cable down and walked out of the front door, leaving Oakley in the kitchen, said Mr Galley.

Robert Michael Oakley.

“(Oakley) came out of the kitchen area with a tea towel on his head, apparently to hide his identity,” added the prosecutor.

“He too made for the front door, and both (he and Horner) bolted.”

However, CCTV cameras at the nearby Trafalgar pub had captured the moment when the two men paused outside the victim’s home before going inside.

Another CCTV camera on Dean Road clocked Oakley running off.

They were both identified by police and arrested at an address in Scarborough.

They both appeared for sentence via video link on May 31 after each admitted burglary.

Mr Galley said the victim had gone to a supermarket with a friend who dropped her off near her home in the afternoon.

“She…noticed one male in dark clothing leaning against the wall of her terraced house and realised another male had come out of the front door,” he added.

“It had been closed but not locked.

"Her daughter was in a second-floor bedroom (while) her mother had gone to the shops.”

The mother, who was named in court, said she was horrified to find “two strangers in my house”.

“It’s destroyed her feeling of safety in her own home,” said Mr Galley.

The burglary occurred just a few days before the woman and her family were due to go on holiday.

They had since installed security cameras and motion sensors at their home and now tried to order home deliveries rather than going out to the shops.

The court heard that Horner, 49, had more than 100 previous offences on his record including 25 burglary convictions. In 2004, he was jailed for seven years for robbery.

Oakley, 41, had 13 previous convictions for house burglary and some of them were recent convictions.

In 2017, he was jailed for over five years for two burglaries and in January 2020 received a four-year prison sentence for another break-in.

Barrister Nick Peacock, representing both defendants, said that Horner had a long-standing heroin problem and had relapsed just before the burglary following the death of his brother.

Oakley had also suffered a recent family bereavement and he too “hit the drugs big style”.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told the two serial burglars: “You are a team of burglars that went into a woman’s house where her young child was upstairs.

“You two have bad records and it would be wrong for me to ignore the fact that you have convictions going back many years.”

He said both men were “professional burglars”.

Oakley, of Queens Terrace, Scarborough, was jailed for four years because he had the worst recent record for burglary.

Horner, of South Street, was jailed for three years and four months.