Barefoot burglar caught ‘green footed’

 In Global News

An operation to combat burglary across an area of Ludlow in Shropshire has had its first successful prosecution.

While many criminals may be caught ‘red handed’, John Richards (39) from Dinham, Ludlow, was caught ‘green footed’ following a police operation to target criminals. The operation was launched following a series of burglaries in Ludlow and the surrounding villages.

After a break-in at a property on Mill Street, Ludlow, Richards was identified as a suspect and arrested by West Mercia Police officers. Items discovered covered in his possession were marked with fluorescing SmartWater liquid. Richards, who removed his boots before committing the burglary also left many ‘SmartWater footprints’ at the scene of the crime.

Richards pleaded guilty to burglary, escaping lawful custody and possession of drugs at an earlier hearing. He has now been sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 100 hours community service and pay £900 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Harding from West Mercia Police said: “Across the West Mercia and Warwickshire policing areas we are taking a proactive approach to tackling burglary. This is one success and we will continue to work with residents to send out a strong messages to would-be burglars that they are not welcome in our towns, cities and villages.”

This operation is part of the force’s We Don’t Buy Crime campaign which is being run in partnership with SmartWater and targets all types of acquisitive crime including burglary, robbery and handling stolen goods.

DCI Harding added: “We want these arrests to send a clear message to burglars that we are using technology to its full potential to bring to justice those who commit burglary, not just in Ludlow, but across the policing area. Indeed, we have invested in a number of new covert technologies to ensure we catch and convict offenders.

“Burglars will not discriminate between targeting homes and businesses. Most are opportunists and will look to target any premises that they consider to be low risk. Our partnership with SmartWater is based around the success-rate of their technology to help us catch and convict burglars who prey on local homes and businesses. There is strong evidence to suggest that thieves will avoid targeting premises if they know SmartWater is in use, because the evidence it provides linking a burglar back to a crime scene is overwhelming.”

“This latest success follows on from the recent creation of the first We Don’t Buy Crime Town, Cleobury Mortimer, which is now fully protected by SmartWater and is a model that is being rolled out across a number of areas in both the West Mercia and Warwickshire Police areas”.

Gary Higgins, Director of Security Services for SmartWater, said: “We are working closely with West Mercia Police in order to educate criminals about SmartWater and the threat it poses to them. Homes or businesses that mark their property with SmartWater are not only helping the police, they are also helping themselves by reducing the chances of experiencing a burglary or theft in the first place.”

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