Crime doesn't pay says Hitchin community centre boss after burglars flee with 'handful of pennies'

PUBLISHED: 11:46 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:46 21 January 2016

Anthony Desmidt

Anthony Desmidt

Archant

They say crime doesn't pay - and it certainly didn't for two men now behind bars for a spate of burglaries in Hitchin - which included fleeing from a community centre with a handful of pennies.

Craig Batten Craig Batten

Anthony Desmidt, 21, and Craig Batten, 40, both pleaded guilty to a number of break-ins between over a three-day period in June last year and were sentenced to two years in prison at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday.

Desmidt, of Turnpike Lane in Ickleford, and Batten, of Willow Tree Way in Hitchin, were arrested after the string of burglaries which included thefts from The Priory School in Bedford Road and Hitchin Boys’ School in Grammar School Walk as well as FCC Environmental in Bury Mead Road.

However, Westmill Community Centre in John Barker Place – which was another of their targets – saw the duo flee with only a few measly pennies from the premises.

Manager Emma Connor told the Comet: “It wasn’t so much what they stole from us, it was the state they left the building in.

“They broke in through a window and left a considerable amount of mess around which we had to clear up. We don’t actually keep any cash in the centre apart from a handful of coppers in our petty cash.

“They probably stole a lot more from others, but for them to get two years – which included the fact they stole a handful of pennies from us – just goes to show that crime’s not worth it.

“For them to run off with a couple of quid in their pocket will hopefully send a message crime doesn’t pay – and that we’ve got nothing to steal.

“What they did by breaking in here was absolutely pointless.”

Priory School head Geraint Edwards added: “We’d like to thank the police for their support. We are pleased that justice has been done.”

Det Sgt Kate Raine from the North Herts local crime unit, who led the investigation, said: “Both Desmidt and Batten caused a great deal of inconvenience to local schools, businesses and garage owners.

“We will not put up with such offenders, and do everything possible to apprehend burglars – as we have in this instance.

“We’re pleased with the outcome and hope the result sends a clear signal.

“We will not relent in catching offenders and will do all we can to continue to drive down burglary.”

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