A sweet-toothed gang’s ringleader carried out a crimewave because he was “bored”.
Brazen Stephen Ladds even had the audacity to steal Whitby Police Station’s open/closed sign when he was on bail – by popping it down his trousers.
During a rampaging burglary spree that lasted almost a year, Ladds and his accomplices plundered cash, laptops and even confectionary in a campaign of crime police say heaped “misery” upon their victims.
The teenager will spend two years in a young offenders’ institution, after he was jailed just days after turning 19.
York Crown Court heard that Ladds, of Upgang Lane, broke into a furniture store, a post office and holiday cottages during the crimewave.
He was finally arrested in March this year and charged with four burglaries and a theft which he admitted at Scarborough Magistrates ‘ Court last month – before asking for more than a dozen other offences to be taken into consideration.
At Tuesday’s York Crown Court sentencing hearing, prosecuting barrister Austin Newman said that in one of the burglaries, Ladds and two youths – who the Gazette can’t name for legal reasons – targeted Beevers furniture store in Whitby on February 24, when they forced open a shutter and took £1,300 in cash after jimmying open an office filing cabinet.
Later that same morning, they broke into the post office at The Parade by smashing a window. They then snapped the lock on a security shutter in front of the cigarette counter and stole hundreds of pounds’ worth of tobacco.
Ladds and his two teenage accomplices were arrested the following month and all three admitted the burglary.
During police interview, Ladds admitted two other break-ins at unoccupied holiday cottages. In one of the burglaries, at a property in East Crescent in January, he stole £585 and two laptops, as well as a 42-inch flat-screen TV.
During another break-in at a property on Abbots Road, he stole £585 and two laptops worth over £1,000.
Ladds agreed for the court to take into consideration four other house burglaries, three attempted break-ins, five commercial burglaries and theft of lead from a roof, as well as damage to a fence at The Boatyard in Whitby.
Mr Newman said the holiday cottages targeted by Ladds were unoccupied as they had just been let.
“He said he committed the offences because he was bored and had nothing to do,” added the prosecutor.
He said that following his arrest, Ladds went into his local police station on March 31 to request changes to his bail conditions – but came away with the open/closed sign hanging on the front door.
“CCTV showed him removing the sign from the door and hiding it in his trousers,” said Mr Newman.
Judge Stephen Ashurst said Ladds was an “intelligent young man”, but described the theft of the police sign as a “matter of stupidity”.
“Stephen Ladds is a prolific offender who has brought nothing but misery to the victims of his crimes,” said a North Yorkshire Police spokesperson.
“He has also treated the Whitby community as a whole with utter contempt. Ladds is now facing up to the consequences of his shameful behaviour and we hope the people affected by him can take some satisfaction following his imprison- ment.”
His two co-accused had previously been given youth referral orders at Scarborough Youth Court.
However, due to their age, the Gazette is currently unable to reveal their identities.
All three defendants had previously appeared together at an initial hearing in Scarborough in April.
At that hearing, family members watched on as the teenagers all admitted their parts in the crimewave.
Ladds had been warned that his crimes were so serious, he could have potentially faced up to 14 years behind bars.
The Gazette contacted both Beevers and the post office, but nobody was available for comment.