A burglar who targeted a house near Rochester is starting a prison sentence after detectives quickly tracked him down and recovered some of the stolen property thanks to a public-spirited villager.

Gavin Lawless LATEST
Gavin Lawless – Image: Kent Police —

During the morning of Thursday 8 February 2024Gavin Lawless drove to High Halstow in a VW Polo and parked near the centre of the village. He then broke into a house while the residents were away and stole jewellery and watches, before returning home to Gillingham in the car.

Vigilant resident

When the householder returned he discovered he had been burgled and contacted the police. But a neighbour had noticed Lawless acting suspiciously before the crime had been committed and had taken down the registration of his car.

The information was passed to officers who then located CCTV footage of Lawless walking to and from his intended target. Further enquiries showed the VW belonged to one of his relatives and detectives were able to track his journey following the break-in. On Friday 9 February, constables who were sent to arrest Lawless saw him leave his home address and approach the parked VW. Following a short foot chase, during which he tried to discard the Polo keys in an alleyway, Lawless was arrested. In the same alleyway, the officers found a bag containing some of the stolen jewellery. Further items from the burglary were recovered from a rucksack inside the VW and from Lawless’ home address. Clothing he had been seen wearing on CCTV footage whilst in High Halstow was also seized.

Lawless was charged by detectives from the Kent Police Crime Squad with burglary. He pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and on Tuesday 12 March, the 45-year-old was sentenced to two years and five months’ imprisonment.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Ben Slocombe, said: ‘Breaking into someone’s house is a very intrusive crime that can leave victims feeling unsafe in their own home. Targeting jewellery that will often have sentimental value and is thus irreplaceable and a despicable thing to do.
‘This offender thought he could travel to a quiet village and commit a burglary with little danger of being detained. He was mistaken and a public-spirited villager took down his car details. This allowed investigators to promptly track him down, recover some of the stolen property and ultimately bring him to justice.’

By Ed

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