A prolific burglar who “commuted” hundreds of miles by train to break into wealthy people’s country houses has been jailed for more than four years.
Gary Mayall, 36, travelled 120 miles from his home in Oldham, Greater Manchester to carry out a string of burglaries at isolated properties in rural Shropshire and Herefordshire.
He was caught on November 23 last year when suspicious residents spotted him lurking by a house in Church Stretton, Shrops., and rang the police.
He was jailed for four years eight months after he admitted three burglaries at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Monday.
He also asked for nine further burglaries to be taken into account.
The court heard Mayall travelled to picturesque Leominster, Herefordshire on November 23 where he broke into a house.
Five days later he travelled to Church Stretton on November 28 where he burgled two houses which were next door to each other.
Andrew Holland, defending, told the court Mayall was a career criminal but followed a “code” which meant he never burgled a house belonging to elderly people.
Speaking after the case Detective Inspector Peter Brophy, of West Mercia Police said: “Mayall was a travelling criminal who came to Shropshire and Herefordshire to break into people’s homes.
“He is a prolific burglar with a long list of crimes to his name.
“But thanks to the support of members of the public in Church Stretton and an excellent response from local police officers, he was quickly arrested despite trying to make good his escape.
“Several local people called the police when they spotted Mayall acting suspiciously near homes.
“They did exactly the right thing by calling us immediately.
“Our officers were then able to respond quickly and more or less caught him in the act.”
Residents in Church Stretton yesterday expressed relief at the sentence.
One said: “He was basically commuting to our lovely town every now and again in order to break into our homes.
“This character treated burglary as a job and everyone is delighted he is where he belongs – behind bars.”