Jailed: Burglar who became the scourge of businesses in the city

Portsmouth crown court
Portsmouth crown court
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BURGLAR Marc Masterton has been jailed after wreaking havoc by breaking into businesses.

The 20-year-old, of Estella Road, Buckland, smashed his way into seven businesses in Portsmouth, stealing petty cash and in one case a Poppy Appeal charity tin.

A major police operation was launched last year in the wake of hundreds of raids on businesses.

Police twice captured Masterton on the nights of his raids — once catching him hiding in a shed and the other time in bed at his partner’s home.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the thief was drinking up to four bottles of whisky and vodka a week at the time.

Jailing him for 58 weeks, Recorder Gordon Bebb QC said: ‘It’s hard enough for people to make a living without having people break in their property with the disruption and expense and the inconvenience.

‘You just think about how they must feel and you think how unsafe they must feel about their premises.’

In a statement read in court Alex Keyte, owner of burgled Shine Hair Salon, in Marmion Road, Southsea, said the premises being ‘boarded up is not a good look for customers’.

Masterton admitted five burglaries and one charge of handling stolen goods after he was found with an iPod from a car had been broken into.Businesses have told The News they have since been forced to install more CCTV and take extra security measures in the wake of his crimes.

Prosecutor Sarah Morris told how around 4am on July 20, 2017, Masterton kicked through the door at Waitrose, in Southsea, and damaged the tills with a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named.

Just 20 minutes later the pair broke into JaMocha, in Elm Grove, Southsea, taking £240 from a till.

Together the pair damaged the door causing £200 worth of damage.

A passer-by called police, who caught the boy at his home, with Masterton hiding in a nearby shed at 5.30am wearing the same clothes he was wearing when spotted on CCTV. The till from the cafe was also found.

Back on November 10 Masterton also burgled Whistle Stop cafe, in Portsmouth Road, Cosham, taking a Poppy Appeal tin with £50 in cash inside.

He got in through a window but was caught by DNA found at the window.

Police also arrested Masterton after someone was sold a stolen iPod Touch from a car broken into between December 4 and 5.

Masterton denied all the charges but went on to burgle Shine Hair Salon on February 4 - stealing £380 in cash at 5.10am.

At 5.30am he was spotted on CCTV breaking into Pebble in Fawcett Road, Southsea.

Police later identified him and arrested him on February 15 while he was hiding in a bed at his partner’s home.

B’s Barbers in Fratton Road, Portsmouth, was also targeted by Masterton in an attempted burglary on February 3

He stole £968 from Roseland Chinese, in Elm Grove, Southsea, on November 23.

These offences were not charged but were taken into consideration by the sentencing judge.

The hundreds of raids led to businesses meeting policing minister Nick Hurd in parliament, together with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and Hampshire police deputy chief constable Sara Glen.

Speaking after the sentencing, police staff investigator Mark Humble said: ‘We welcome the sentence imposed by the court and I am pleased that the businesses affected by these burglary incidents have now seen the person responsible brought to justice.

‘I want to reassure members of the public and business owners that we take all burglaries seriously and are committed to identifying and prosecuting those responsible.’

Business burglaries spiked in Portsmouth last year but have since reduced, police said.

Kelly Brocklehurst, mitigating, said Masterton, who admitted all charges, was improving his life while on remand in jail.

Mr Brocklehurst said the thief now knows his actions had a ‘real impact on small businesses’.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘I want to congratulate local police for securing this conviction, as well as their enduring efforts, under significant financial pressure, in serving our city and keeping communities safe.’