Text alert nabs burglar

A PROLIFIC church burglar has pleaded guilty to a string of raids across the country - after being caught out by a texting service.Christopher Coulthard, 43, of no fixed abode, appeared at Sudbury Magistrates' Court via video link and admitted carrying out three burglaries from churches and one theft from a church.

A PROLIFIC church burglar has pleaded guilty to a string of raids across the country - after being caught out by a texting service.

Christopher Coulthard, 43, of no fixed abode, appeared at Sudbury Magistrates' Court via video link and admitted carrying out three burglaries from churches and one theft from a church.

He also asked for 76 other church-related offences to be taken into consideration - 12 of these are believed to have taken place in Suffolk.

Coulthard was arrested after police in Suffolk issued an appeal using a text and e-mail service called Police Direct.


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The system has been developed by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) and can send out 20,000 messages in an hour.

West Suffolk is the only area of the county using the system for day-to-day policing and launched an appeal to find Coulthard following a number of church burglaries in county.

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A Police Direct user received the message and called police to inform them that Coulthard was near a church in Santon Downham.

Police attended the scene and Coulthard admitted a string of offences committed in seven different counties.

Chief Superintendent Mark Cordell said: “This arrest outlines the power of Police Direct and proves what an excellent crime fighting tool it is.

“The eyes and ears of the public are essential to help us fight crime and Police Direct enables us to harness this power.

“It is a fantastic system that gives us the opportunity to communicate with thousands of people within a matter of seconds via text, e-mail or voice messages.

“With the help of Police Direct we have been able to lock up a prolific burglar who has committed a large number of church burglaries in the UK.”

To register for Police Direct visit www.suffolk.police.uk or text POLICE and your postcode to 88588.

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