A thief caused more than £16,000 of damage by breaking into vehicles around Blackburn and stealing items from inside them.

Peter McDonagh, 44, persistently found his way into the vehicles, mainly work vans, in order to steal items to fund his drug habit.

McDonagh’s crimes totalled around £16,000 lost through damage to the vehicles and the value of the items that were lost.

Prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, Ben Stanley said the first incident happened on June 28, 2023, when a Mr Jefferson left his car parked in Brindle Street.

When he returned he noticed damage to the door and a number of power tools, worth around £2,000, had been taken.

CCTV nearby showed two males open the side door and take the items. Mr Jefferson told police he had located one suspect, the defendant, and police attended and arrested him.

Another male was arrested but not charged, while the defendant was released under investigation.

On July 17, shortly after midnight, McDonagh damaged another car in Downley Walk, smashing the passenger side window and taking items worth £1,590.

On the evening of July 24 and into the morning of July 25, windows on a van in the car park at Premier Inn in Cathedral Square were smashed, causing £3,000 damage.

Personal items were taken from inside totalling another £3,000.

On August 2 at around 2.40am, McDonagh approached a number of vehicles in the same car park and damaged a window to a van, costing £350.

On August 8, just after midnight, in the same car park McDonagh broke the lock on a Citroen van, taking from inside a grease gun worth £400, as well as cash, clothes, and a sat-nav.

Six days later, he damaged the handle of a Vauxhall vehicle, causing £300 damage, and four days after that, he damaged the passenger side window of a Renault vehicle and stole an electronic tablet from inside.

The next day, tools and clothing were stolen from inside a Volkswagen Caddy, and in the following two days, two separate Ford Rangers were targeted – one had electronic testing equipment stolen from inside, while nothing was taken from the other, though it did suffer damage to the cab.

Police identified McDonagh from CCTV and he was arrested on December 14.

He started his interview by providing no comment answers before remaining silent for the rest of the interview.

McDonagh, of Great Bolton Street, Blackburn, has 21 convictions for 42 offences, five of which were for theft and fraud offences.

His last conviction was in 2007.

Edward Steele, mitigating, said his client, who was remanded into custody ahead of the sentence, had “never been so happy to be in prison.”

He added McDonagh felt this was his last chance with his family and he “has a life he wants to live.”

Sentencing, Recorder Philip Grundy said: “You’re still a relatively young man. You have an appalling record as a young man.

“To your credit, you admitted you have committed some offending to fund your drug habit, and that is the underlying core reason for your offending.”

Recorder Grundy sentenced McDonagh to two years in prison.

He added: “Don’t let me down. Do your best and hopefully you won’t appear before a court again.”