A ‘prolific’ thief from Leighton Buzzard has been jailed for over three years after a string of break-ins, including at a charity shop in the town.
Paul “Trippy” Tripp, 43, previously of Kilgour Court, Bassett Road, was sentenced to a total of three years and two months at Luton Crown Court yesterday on six different counts.
Tripp smashed his way into the Age UK charity shop in Lake Street on June 9 last year, and caused more than £500 damage as well as stealing around £100 of items from the stockroom and staff lockers. Tripp was detained on the roof of the building, where some of the items were found.
Tripp also burgled a church in Dunstable and attempted to break into a nursery in Luton.
Judge Andrew Bright QC referred to Tripp’s long criminal record and said: “You’re a prolific, acquisitive offender. You steal property for a living and have done for a long time.
“I’ve heard a really quite moving account from the manager of Age UK about the effect not just on customer confidence, but on the funds the charity has for its causes.
“It’s frankly disgusting to target charities, as it is to target churches.
“These offences may not have provided much in terms of gain for you... but they are despicable. People on the receiving end are not people who can afford the cost of putting their premises together again.”
In a victim statement, the manager of Age UK said the shop had been burgled several times in recent years and she believed thieves were aware it didn’t have money for extensive security. She said the costs of repairs took away from its good causes.
On April 8 last year, Tripp also entered an outbuilding in Pulford Road, Leighton Buzzard, and stole two mini-fridges valued at £50 each and four children’s dolls, worth around £10 each, as well as a paperweight inscribed with the initials of the victim’s father-in-law.
Two days later, Tripp broke into a car in Leighton Buzzard and stole a Ted Baker handbag.
On 17 June, 2018, Tripp burgled a woman’s home in Tudor Court, off Water Lane, while she was at home. Tripp broke in via the victim’s bedroom window, and left his palm print. Keys were stolen, including an access fob for the block, as well as a keyring with pictures of the victim’s grandchildren.
The woman stated: “It was an invasion of my privacy.
“I feel sick about the whole situation and I feel that the flat doesn’t belong to me as someone has gone through all of my things.”
On August 5, Tripp attempted to break-into the Chapel Street Nursery in Russell Rise, Luton, but fled “drunk and staggering” after he was confronted by a workman still in the building. An attempted dwelling burglary on September 3, 2018, in which a window was removed.
On September 6, Tripp smashed a stained glass window to break into Polskie Parafia, a Polish Catholic Church in Victoria Street, Dunstable, where he used a metal cruxifix to open and empty its collection boxes.
Tripp’s defence stated he was abused as a youngster and had been in and out of prison for many years. Ten years ago, he attempted to start a new life in Bristol and was living happily with his partner until his father died. It was claimed that Tripp found opiates among his late father’s effects, became addicted, and quickly regressed into a life of crime.
At the time he was remanded for these offences, he weighed around eight-and-a-half stone, had a broken a bone in his foot, and was described as “hobbling around” and “frequently drunk”.