JUST hours after being released over a shoplifting allegation a man was caught trying to burgle a house yards from a police station.

Preston Crown Court heard how 21-year-old Joshua Thomas Whalley was released from Burnley Police Station early in the evening on October 6 and had been dropped off officers in Waterfoot.

Whalley, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, found himself back in custody hours later after trying to illegally enter homes close to Waterfoot Police Station.

Prosecuting, Emma Kehoe said: “PC Mark Fletcher heard a call over his police radio at 11.20pm that a report had been made that there was a male walking round trying door handles of a local estate

“ In fact the estate is right next to Waterfoot Police Station so PC Fletcher took the initiative, left the station and he watched the male as he approached various houses concealing his hand up his jacket and then trying to get in through the front door of various properties.

“He followed the male, he lost him for a very short period of time, but then he saw him again as he walked out of an address on Sandybank Terrace, which is on an adjoining housing estate to the one he had previously seen him at.

“PC Fletcher approached him, he had seen him coming out of the front door and he arrested the male who transpired to be Joshua Whalley. There was a short struggle but he did comply eventually.”

Ms Kehoe said the homeowner had been watching TV and heard the front door open. She thought it was a friend but it was Whalley.

Ms Kehoe said: “In her police statement, the victim said she was shocked by what had happened and it left her scared in the future,”

In police interview Whalley said he had been looking for somewhere to stay rather than steal and that’s why her was trying various door handles.

Whalley pleaded guilty to burglary.

Defending, Mark Stuart said: “On the night he had gone to his father’s, hadn’t been allowed in and was then back out. The stupidity he has shown is that this all happened right round Waterfoot Police Station - it could hardly be any nearer. It’s not exactly sophisticated, he’s not normally a burglar and he hadn’t gone equipped.”

Jailing Whalley for nine months, Judge Beverley Lunt said: “Joshua Whalley there was nothing sophisticated about this offence and there was nothing sophisticated about what you were doing that night.

“But you must understand that from being a youth with behavioural problems and then being a shoplifter, you have really kicked up a gear now and you’re into the serious crime level when its burglary of houses.”