A Polegate burglar has been jailed for raiding 15 homes in Devon while he was on the run from the immigration authorities.
Lukas Boboic made five trips to the West Country and stole more than £100,000 worth of jewellery and cash from homes he broke into.
He stayed at hotels and carried out up to eight raids during a five-day visit. Many of the homes belonged to pensioners and their jewellery had immense sentimental value to them.
Boboic is a Polish citizen who would normally have been entitled to live in Britain under European Union freedom of movement rules.
He was deported because he has committed 23 offences since coming to Britain in 2008, including two previous house burglaries.
He returned illegally shortly before he started his eight month crime spree in July 2016. The first break-in was exactly a week before the Brexit referendum vote.
The former Brighton bus driver broke into houses all over East and Mid Devon, often stealing irreplaceable heirlooms from pensioners.
Boboic, 25, of Park Croft, admitted 15 burglaries and was jailed for three and a half years by Judge Erik Salomonsen at Exeter Crown Court.
He will start the sentence after he completes a six-year term imposed at Lewes Crown Court for a robbery in Sussex in January.
The judge told him, ”Each an every one of these offences had a victim and each and every victim suffered loss. In many cases they lost items which simply could not be replaced because they had sentimental value.
“I have read the victim impact statements. These offences were against not only the public, but more particularly against occupiers who were frequently elderly.
“It has been suggested that on your visits to Devon, having hired a car and booked a hotel in advance, you simply decided to carry out these burglaries on a whim. I do not accept that.
“Burglaries of this nature, when the total number are taken together, require a substantial term of imprisonment.”
The judge said the sentence would have been six or seven years if these cases stood alone, but he had reduced it in light of the long sentence Boboic is already serving.
Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said Boboic was linked to the offences by DNA, phone tracking data, and evidence of him hiring cars to come to Devon and staying hotels during his visits.
He hired cars and stayed at either the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park in Exmouth or the Exeter Court Hotel at Kennford.
She said, ”The vast majority of burglaries used a similar method in which an ornament was taken from the garden and used to smash a window or door panel to gain entry.
“Untidy searches were made and jewellery and cash stolen and sometimes removed in pillow cases, which were also taken from the houses.
“They were committed on five separate trips and with the exception of a burglary at Halsdon Avenue in Exmouth, all the homes were unoccupied.
“The victim impact statements show they were shocked and made to feel insecure in their own homes. Several victims were elderly and their losses were significant.
“At one property jewellery worth £30,000 was stolen and many of the items were of great sentimental value. Many had been handed down through families. The total loss is in excess of £100,000.
“In many of these burglaries there was greater harm because of the significant degree of loss. There was also significant planning and organisation involving the booking of hotels and hiring of cars.
“It is clear that at least one other person was involved in all or some of the burglaries, so he was acting as part of a group or gang.”
She said Boboic paid £7,500 into his bank account and £900 into a Paypal account but there is now nothing left to compensate the losers. None of the jewellery has been recovered.
Miss Francesca Whebell, said Boboic is a former Brighton bus driver with a partner and four-year-old son living in Sussex.
He was deported back to Poland because of the earlier offences but his entire family live in Britain and he did not want to be separated from them.
He came back and started committing the crimes on an opportunistic basis while staying in Devon to avoid being picked up by the immigration authorities, who were looking for him in Sussex.
She said, ”He was due to be expelled. The reason he came down here was not for planned trips to steal. He went to Devon or Cornwall to avoid the immigration authorities.
“He appealed against his deportation but when he lost the appeal his life spiralled out of control.”