A CAREER burglar responsible for a string of thefts across six counties has been jailed for almost six years.

Christopher Pike committed more than 50 break-ins over an eight-month period, targeting homes in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

His thefts had all been carried out during the day, when his victims were out of the house, and include incidents in Andover, Basingstoke, Micheldever, Sparsholt and Stockbridge.

The 37-year-old admitted a handful of charges at Swindon Crown Court on Thursday morning.

Sending Pike to prison for five years and 10 months, Judge Peter Crabtree said: “You have an awful criminal record, including for dishonesty.”

Swindon Crown Court heard that Pike had admitted four charges of burglary – and asked for a further 49 break-ins to be taken into consideration.

Prosecutor Hannah Squire said Pike had been responsible for a campaign of burglary that began in July last year and continued until February.

“These are not random or opportunistic burglaries,” Ms Squire said. “There is clearly planning involved.”

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The four break-ins with which he was charged were committed in Wiltshire and Hampshire.

They included a theft near Andover on December 6. Pike broke into a St Mary Bourne farmhouse through rear patio doors and took jewellery estimated by the homeowner to be worth up to £4,500.

Months earlier, on September 10, he had smashed the window of a house in East Wellow, near Romsey, and stole jewellery that he later admitted selling on for £500.

Hours later he struck again, this time breaking into a house in nearby Awbridge, and taking jewellery from a bedroom. His DNA was found on a screwdriver left at the scene.

Hampshire Constabulary say a joint investigation with its Operation Hawk team and Thames Valley Police and Wiltshire Police helped bring Pike’s spree to an end.

When interviewed by police at HMP Bullingdon in March, Pike asked for a further 49 burglaries to be taken into consideration. Appearing before Swindon Crown Court via video link from HMP Bullingdon last week, the former Devizes resident pleaded guilty to four charges of burglary.

Catherine Walker, defending, said her client’s trouble began when he was moved from being supervised by probation officers in Swindon to those in the Chippenham area, where he was known by former associates to whom he owed debts.

Up to that point he had been living trouble-free for around three years, having been released from prison halfway through a six year sentence imposed in 2013 for attempted robbery and burglary.

He fell back into his old drugs habit and returned to stealing as a way of repaying his debts. He was remorseful and had made efforts while in prison on remand to get himself clean.

The officer in the case, Det Sgt Gary Epps, told the court it had been refreshing to find a burglar keen to clear up matters with officers.

Before the hearing ended, Pike said: “I’ve got some more things for Gary to try and clear up, some of the people’s stuff. That’s all I can say.”

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