AN EX-SOLDIER too ashamed to claim benefits made a living as a burglar stealing thousands of pounds of jewellery, Lincoln Crown Court heard.
Matthew Watkins, 27, of Northfield Road, Welton has been jailed for 16 months after admitting two burglary charges and a further 17 raids that were taken into consideration.
The court heard how Watkins picked out potential targets while delivering leaflets for his mother’s cleaning business in Welton, Sudbrooke, Scothern and Nettleham.
Defending Michael Cranmer-Brown said Watkins found himself with no income after he left the army and chose not to sign on for benefits.
He said: “He seemed to think that to sign on would be shameful and embarrassing and so decided to obtain money in this way.
“The money went on his board and lodgings that he was expected to pay to his step-father and mother. It was not going on luxuries.
“Although these are persistent offences they did not involve any sophisticated planning or targeting. This defendant was delivering leaflets for his mother’s business and was able to ascertain whether the house was empty or not. If the property was empty he took the opportunity to go in.”
Recorder Richard Hedley told Watkins: “This was a serious extended spree of burglaries carried out over many months.”
Prosecuting Andrew Scott said Watkins was linked to the raids after a leaflet was found at a property he burgled in Windsor Close, Sudbrooke where he forced his way into the house though a patio door and stole more than £1,000 of jewellery.
Mr Scott said: “CCTV identified the fact that the defendant had been delivering leaflets in Sudbrooke that day.”
Watkins was interviewed by police, his home searched and the stolen property was recovered. Further investigations revealed he was a regular seller of gold at a local pawnbroker.
Mr Scott said: “The defendant was interviewed and made a full and frank admission. He said he sold some of the property he had stolen.”
Watkins later travelled around the area with police identifying other properties he burgled, between October 2011 and May this year.