A horrifed burglary victim told today how she carried on her daily routine and even went to bed unaware a thief had been hiding in the wardrobe — for 13 hours.
Rosalinde Potter, 53, came home at 2.40pm and unknowingly disturbed Aaron Bradford – who had burgled her three times before.
Bradford, 18, grabbed a poker from her fireplace and jumped into a wardrobe in her spare room and remained hidden there while police searched the house three times.
Rosalinde didn’t realise Bradford was hiding in her home and called police who arrived to investigate the break in at 6pm.
Two officers spent two hours at her home, taking fingerprints, DNA and examining every room for possible evidence.
Rosalinde and the officers went into her spare room three times – unaware Bradford was crouched inside the wardrobe.
Police left at 8pm and mum-of-one Rosalinde spent the evening at home with her partner and 16-year-old son, having dinner and watching TV.
Bradford continued sitting still and quiet in the cupboard until 4am – when he crept out while the family slept and grabbed a camera, a Toshiba laptop and cash.
He was caught minutes later by police who saw him walking down the road and he has now been jailed for five years after admitting a string of offences.
Rosalinde, of Yelverton, Devon, said Bradford must have sat in her wardrobe for 13 hours ”like a gnome holding a fishing rod”.
She said: ”We were all in the room while he was there – me, a police officer, another officer taking fingerprints, my partner. He was within arms reach of all of us.
”There’s a shelf inside and I assume he was sitting there like a gnome holding a fishing rod. He’s slim but 6ft tall so I think that’s the only way he could have done it.
”We went into the spare room with the police three times while he was sat inside there. I went back into the room myself later too.
”It’s very disturbing to think that someone might actually want to hit me with a poker.
”It took me three weeks before I could even sleep at night just thinking someone could be in the house.”
Bradford, of Plymouth, Devon, broke into the five-bedroomed home by smashing a patio door on September 25, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Rosalinde, who runs a leaflet business, returned at 2.40pm and he grabbed an 18inch poker and jumped into the wardrobe – where Rosalinde’s partner keeps his shirts.
He climbed out of the cupboard at 4am and was arrested after he was spotted carrying his swag just half a mile from the house.
The court heard CCTV footage showed Bradford entering the property at 2.40pm and leaving at 4am.
Bradford admitted burgling the same house four times and was sentenced to five years in a young offenders’ institution less 57 days spent on remand.
David Gittins, prosecuting, said: ”The householder returned home to find the patio doors forced and items moved within the house. She reported the break-in to police.
“He hid in the wardrobe for 13 hours till 4am, then stole a camera, a laptop and a small amount of cash.”
Jason Beal, for Bradford, said his client showed “contrition and remorse” and had made ”full and frank” admissions.