Smash-and-grab thief caught holding woman's stolen purse

Thieves work in pairs using gadgets to hijack a car key signal from a car parked outside a house wit

Michael Taylor was spotted trying car door handles in Meridian Rise, Ipswich - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A man caught holding a woman's stolen purse while breaking into cars in Ipswich has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Michael Taylor was caught red-handed in Meridian Rise, off Woodbridge Road, during the early morning of Thursday, July 29.

The following morning, 40-year-old Taylor appeared at Suffolk Magistrates' Court to admit three counts of vehicle interference, one count of theft and one count of criminal damage. 

Police were called to the area following reports of two males trying car door handles between 5am and 5.30am. 

An officer arrived and turned a corner to the sound of breaking glass, before seeing Taylor standing beside a car with a purse in his hand.

Prosecutor Ashley Petchey said Taylor was also found with the exact sum of money later confirmed as having been stolen from a nearby Hyundai i30 with a smashed window.

Taylor, of Maryon Road, Ipswich, made no comment in police interview but pleaded guilty to all offences before magistrates the next morning.

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The court heard he had 29 previous convictions for 88 offences, including 52 thefts, and was last before the court in June.

David Allan, mitigating, said Taylor had, in the past, been a regular offender in order to fund a class A drug habit.

However, he added, since being released from a jail sentence at the end of May last year, Taylor had been convicted of just one offence – stealing chocolate bars from B&M.

"That's quite a change in pattern," Mr Allan told the court.

"It reflects someone who, for much of that period following release, was drug free."

Mr Allan said Taylor had relapsed amid concerns about his mother's recent ill-health, adding: "That anxiety appears to have led to him going back to some level of drug use."

He asked magistrates to recognise Taylor's comparatively limited recent offending, and the importance of preventing further offending, by imposing a suspended term of imprisonment with a drug rehabilitation requirement and a tagged curfew. 

Magistrates handed Taylor eight weeks' custody, suspended for 12 weeks, with 30 days' rehabilitation activity requirement and an eight-week overnight curfew between 7pm and 7am.

He was also ordered to pay £300 in compensation to the owner of the damaged Hyundai i30.