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Blackburn thief spared jail over Age UK raid
1:00pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in News
A THIEF has admitted his part in the burglary of a charity headquarters during which £9,500 of damage was caused.
Robert Steele, 36, of St Peter Street, Blackburn was handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting stealing from Age UK’s offices in King Street, Blackburn.
Preston Crown Court heard Steele used a fire extinguisher as a battering ram to smash down the door to the pensioners’ charity.
Three boxes filled with cash were snatched along with 11 laptops, which were used to help elderly people with computer literacy.
Branded sweatshirts and T-shirts were also taken from cupboards, leading charity bosses to think the thieves may have intended to impersonate collectors and commit charity fraud.
Despite admitting burglary, Steele pleaded guilty to taking three computers during the break-in.
The court heard Steele was arrested following DNA tests on blood found at the scene.
Yesterday Judge Christopher Cornwall also sentenced Steele to a two-year supervision order and an 18-month drug rehabilitation order.
Staff arriving for work the following morning said they were devastated when they discovered the damage. Pauline Walsh, chief officer at Age UK Blackburn with Darwen, said the burglary had set the charity back quite badly, with computer classes having to be cancelled until replacement equipment was found.
Mrs Walsh said: “Age UK is pleased to see this issue come to an end. We hope the perpetrator sees his drug rehabilitation through so that he won’t put any other family or organisation through the same distress or upset.
“The charity works hard to raise money for local elderly people and is disappointed no compensation has yet been awarded.”