A SERIAL thief who confessed to 41 burglaries — including a break-in at a church and cricket club — told a court he was looking to ‘go straight’.

Steven John Rawcliffe, 27, stole £100 after breaking into Nelson’s Christ Church, Burnley magistrates were told.

He later told police he had been inside the Cross Street church ‘for religious reasons’, the court heard.

Rawcliffe managed to evade police on the night but was identified after he left blood on a broken window at the premises.

He also broke into Colne Cricket Club and stole a lottery machine, 40-inch television and cash, totalling £1,000.

Rawcliffe, of Percy Street, Nelson, admitted two offences of burglary and asked for 39 similar offences, some dating back to 2001, to be taken into account. Nick Dearing, defending, said his client wanted a ‘clean slate’ so he could make a fresh start after overcoming his drug problems.

The only evidence police had of many of the burglaries he had identified was from his own admissions, he added.

The court heard Rawcliffe had been before Burnley Crown Court in February, when he admitted producing cannabis and was given a suspended prison sentence, which included a 12-month drug rehabilitation order with two years’ supervision.

And it was intended that the burglaries would be dealt with at the same time, the magistrates hearing was told.

Magistrates imposed a community order, to run alongside the crown court punishment.

They also ordered him to pay £100 compensation to both the church and cricket club.