A PROFESSIONAL burglar has been jailed for three years for raiding garages and sheds all over Devon and Somerset in a four-year crime campaign.
Tree surgeon Stephen Holcombe even boasted to police of taking photographs at the scenes of his crimes to show the premises had been insecure.
He broke into so many outhouses that whenever there was a spate of raids police would visit his home to see if any of the property was there, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Holcombe was jailed after he made a series of mistakes including leaving blood at the scene of a break-in at a family home while the owners were on holiday.
He normally targeted sheds and garages because he knew that burgling them carried lower sentences but he could not resist the lure of the luxury detached home when he found it empty.
He also left a cigarette butt with his DNA on it outside a garage he raided in Kentisbury, near Ilfracombe, where it was spotted by the sharp-eyed owner and passed on to detectives.
The burglar escaped justice for five years by repeatedly claiming to be ill whenever police called. He also missed several court dates for similar reasons, claiming on one occasion to have fallen from his loft ladder.
Holcombe, 54, of Beadon Road, Taunton, who previously lived in Till Close, Bridgwater, admitted seven burglaries and asked for 13 similar offences to be considered.
All but one of his burglaries were on outbuildings. They took place between 2007 and 2012 in Kentisbury and East Down, North Devon, Luppitt, near Honiton, Sidmouth, and various parts of Somerset.
Nicholas Fridd, defending, said Holcombe had genuine health problems.