A THIEF who smashed into vehicles across Basingstoke has been jailed for three years after he left his phone in one of the cars he targeted.

Ricky James, 38, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of thefts from motor vehicles, five fraud charges and one theft of a motor vehicle.

When he appeared at Winchester Crown Court, he also asked Judge Keith Culter to take into consideration seven other thefts from motor vehicles.

The court heard that James’ spree took place between July 14 and August 3, where he would smash the window of the targeted vehicle to gain entry and steal purses or wallets from inside.

He would then take the cards from the purses or wallets and use them to make contactless payments at a range of different stores.

The court heard that James was first arrested on July 25 having been identified from CCTV using the stolen cards.

When arrested he was found with various items on him, all suspected to be stolen property.

After further investigations proved these were stolen and his phone was found in one of the cars he targeted, he was arrested again on August 3 at his sister’s house in Basingstoke.

Officers carried out a search of the property and found the spare key to a VW Polo, which had been stolen from Vernhams Walk the previous night.

The vehicle was later found in Park Prewett Way, Rooksdown, and inside officers found a small orange hammer, used for smashing windows in an emergency.

Forensic tests found James’ DNA on the hammer.

Officers also discovered other items in the car and the property, which had been stolen from three other vehicles on August 2.

Yesterday (November 1) James was sentenced to three years in prison for all counts.

During the sentencing Judge Cutler said that the “whole community of Basingstoke were affected by these crimes” and how “upsetting” it had been for each of James’ victims.

After the sentencing PC Phillip Chalke, from Basingstoke CID, said: “James embarked on this crime spree to fund his drug addiction, looking into vehicles and breaking into any which had items on display.

“I hope this sentencing comes as some reassurance to residents that we do take crimes like this seriously and we will take action to bring those responsible to justice.”

He added: “I would like also like to take this opportunity to remind people not to leave anything of value in their cars because sadly there are those who will see that as a chance to satisfy their own greed.”