A THIEF was tracked down by a police helicopter team using a thermal imaging camera following a chase drama on a building site in Basingstoke.

Wayne Lewis used bolt croppers to cut a large hole in a fence surrounding the site in Taverner Close, Oakridge, on April 20 this year, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Once inside, the 30-year-old broke into a shipping container from which he tried to drag a compacter and a generator.

Rachel Robertson, prosecuting, said the police were called to the site at 11.15pm after receiving a call from a civil engineer, who had heard noises.

He was trapped in a portable building after Lewis and an accomplice had propped a wooden pallet against the door.

The prosecutor said officers attending spotted two men dragging equipment towards the metal fence before running when challenged.

“Dog units and a police helicopter were called,” she said. “The helicopter found a heat source using a thermal imaging camera in one of the partly-built units.

“Officers with dogs then found two males on the ground in the far corner of the building. The men jumped through a window and across the site.”

Lewis stopped when the helicopter trained a spotlight on him, while the other man was stopped by a dog unit.

Lewis, of Wiltshire Crescent, Buckskin, Basingstoke, was appearing for sentence having pleaded guilty to trespassing on the site with intent to steal. The court heard he had 21 convictions for 45 offences, including house and non-dwelling burglaries.

Mark Ashley, defending, said Lewis needed money to fuel a cannabis addiction that he now wants to overcome.

Judge Keith Cutler gave Lewis an 18-month community order with supervision and drug rehabilitation requirements.

He told Lewis: “Please do not let me down. I will be here for a number of years yet, and I hope we will never have to meet again.”