Burglar racked with guilt dumps stash stolen from charity shop

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A burglar who smashed his way into a charity shop walked off empty-handed after being ‘overcome with guilt’, a court heard.

Michael Gage, 35, broke into the British Heart Foundation premises on Blandford Street in Sunderland last month and stuffed £450 worth of items into a rucksack he had taken with him.

But when police arrived they found all the goods had been left behind, along with a trail of blood from a cut he sustained while forcing entry. When Gage was tracked through the DNA and arrested, he told officers he had ‘realised what he had done’ and abandoned the crime.

Gage, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to burglary before magistrates in South Tyneside on Friday and was jailed for six months.

Detective constable Neil Swainston said: ‘This was an unsophisticated burglary which saw Gage smash his way into a city centre shop and leave a trail of clues behind.

‘While his conscience may have ultimately got the better of him, clearly this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable – and at a time when everyone is pulling together, it is particularly abhorrent that someone would target a charity which relies on the support of volunteers and the community.

‘Gage’s actions were selfish and unlawful – and he now begins a spell behind bars. I sincerely hope he uses this time to reflect on how his behaviour can adversely affect others.

‘His conviction came as a result of some brilliant work from our forensic team who were able to provide irrefutable evidence that proved Gage was responsible, as well as the detectives who pulled together the case.

‘I would like to reassure businesses and all retail premises in the city that officers continue to proactively patrol our streets every single day in order to take swift and robust action against any perpetrators.’