A respectable ‘labourer’ who left for ‘work’ every morning for ten months was actually leading a secret double life as one of Britain’s most prolific burglars – and earned £120,000.
Lee Dixon, 35, told his unsuspecting fiancee he was working long days and overtime but was actually carrying out raids on a series of large country properties across six counties.
Dixon, who had no criminal record prior to his arrest in January, turned to a life of crime to pay off a £10,000 debt after he lost his job as a labourer – but didn’t tell his partner.
The court heard Dixon was a ‘gentleman, raffles-style’ burglar who would sometimes do the washing up at properties he raided and kept damage to a minimum.
Dixon’s ten month crime spree saw him net over £120,000 of jewellery, cash and gems from 105 properties.
He was only snared when he was caught using stolen Marks and Spencer vouchers – and officers were stunned when his fingerprints were linked with over 100 break-ins.
Dixon pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary and asked for a further 99 to be taken into consideration.
Jailing Dixon for five years at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Simon Darwall-Smith said: ”These were not impulsive burglaries but well thought out beforehand.
”You were in the main very successful and managed to sell items quickly so very little has been recovered.
”It’s not just the value. Many items, particularly jewellery, were sentimental to their owners.”
Dixon’s incredible double life is thought to have started in February last year after he bought stolen goods from a man in a pub in Bath.
He told officers he decided to ”cut out the middle man” and planned to target a series of remote rural properties over the following ten months.
Dixon’s crime spree began on March 17 last year, when he burgled a five-bedroom home in Chilcompton, Avon, stealing £1,500 of jewellery and Marks and Spencer vouchers.
The court heard that was caught after eventually using the vouchers at an M&S store which, having been reported, flashed up as stolen at the till.
On May 15, Dixon broke into a 17th century property in Weston High Street, Bath and stole jewellery including a silver diamond bracelet and an 18 carat gold ring worth £2,500.
In June, he stole jewellery worth £40,000 from a home in Wincanton, Somerset, while at another break-in, he stole a charity tin before his offending ended in January.
Dixon, of Frome, Somerset, told police he had been laid off from work as a labourer and was struggling to pay off £10,000 – a secret debt his fiancee was completely unaware of.
Timothy Hills, mitigating, said his client’s case was one of the ”most bizarre multiple burglary cases” he had ever seen.
He said his client suffered from a bipolar condition and people who knew him told of their ”surprise, amazement and shock” at what he had done.
Detective Constable Nicola Caffrey, of the priority crime team in Melksham, Wilts., said: ”He has been co-operative throughout and admitted to each burglary.
”We drove him to areas where we thought he may have committed one and he took us to where they happened.
”He hasn’t come to police notice before, and there were no drugs involved or gambling debts, he worked alone just to support his everyday living.
”We are delighted to have caught him, it was a needle in a haystack job. He is such a normal type of guy, he doesn’t stand out at all.”