Walking through your front door to find a burglar has ransacked your home can be an utterly devastating experience.
The trauma resulting from the invasion of privacy and the feeling of not being safe in your own home can be lasting, particularly for vulnerable or elderly people.
And that is before taking into account the inconvenience and often significant financial impact of replacing lost valuables or repairing damage incurred by home or business owners.
This week the ECHO reported on two particularly unpleasant home invasions in Merseyside, both involving elderly victims.
The offender jumped out of a window and tried to run as neighbours came to help, but he was arrested by Merseyside Police officers nearby.
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The thief, a man with a “gruff voice”, ransacked her home before stealing cash and a purple leather purse containing credit and debit cards.
Police are still hunting the suspect, described as around 5ft8, of stocky build and wearing black clothing.
These are some convicted thieves guilty of appalling crimes that have passed through the courts in Merseyside recently.
One man crime wave James Sanders hit nine homes in one night days after being freed from prison.
The 34-year-old was released in March and after just seven days of freedom he burgled his victims’ homes in the middle of the night.
Sanders, who is of no fixed address but from Wirral, broke into homes across the peninsula in the early hours of Tuesday, March 24.
During one burglary, he was captured on camera when he tried to remove the CCTV device from one of the victim’s properties.
Six burglaries were carried out in Eastham and another in Bromborough.
He then attempted to burgle another property in Rock Ferry and one in Prenton.
Sanders was arrested a day later as a result of the CCTV images and was later convicted of nine counts of burglary.
He was jailed for six years.
Kelvin Franklin stole from victims as they slept after creeping into their homes during the night.
The burglar targeted two homes in Wirral over the summer, stealing a phone, a car and cash from those who lived there.
The 18-year-old entered an Upton home in late July and took a quantity of cash from the house.
In early August, Franklin gained entry to a home in West Kirby before stealing keys for a Toyota Yaris and making off with the car and a phone.
He was arrested in Cheshire a few weeks later, then charged and later found guilty of the two burglaries.
Franklin, of Water Street in Egremont, Wallasey, was locked up for two years.
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George Price targeted homes in West Derby and Widnes while hunting for expensive jewellery.
The gold thief was convicted of daylight raids on three properties last year, which were described as “abhorrent”.
The 29-year-old broke into a West Derby home on September 4, 2019, and made off with jewellery and cash.
He returned to the area four days later but he and his accomplices fled empty-handed after being disturbed by his intended victims.
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On October 11, he broke into a home in Widnes and searched it, again seeking jewellery, but didn’t find what he was looking for.
Price, of Ainsley Street in Newton Heath, Manchester, was convicted of three counts of burglary.
He was jailed for four years and eight months.
Patrick Symes and Lewis Smith
Patrick Symes raided 41 homes in just over four months to feed a spiralling £200 per day cocaine habit.
The career criminal, and an accomplice who acted as his driver, Lewis Smith, 30, of Pauline Walk, Fazakerley, admitted conspiracy to commit burglary.
The 31-year-old ransacked homes across Merseyside and West Lancashire snatching precious items including a wedding ring which belonged to a victim’s dead husband.
He even stole medals from an Army veteran in Litherland who served with the 3rd Battalion Rifles for 24 years, taking medals from tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, of “great sentimental value”.
One victim decided to leave her home of 36 years, while others spent thousands of pounds on CCTV cameras, lights and alarms to feel safer.
A mum who returned home from celebrating her daughter’s eighth birthday to find items including her parents’ wedding rings gone had to undergo therapy.
David Kilty, defending Symes at Liverpool Crown Court, said his client was using “up to £200 of illegal drugs a day” and while he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, accepted he had “little regard” for his victims.
Mr Kilty added: “It’s something he will be ashamed of for the rest of his days.”
Symes, of no fixed abode but from the Kirkby area, was jailed for 10 years while Smith was locked up for two years and three months.
A housebound disabled woman woke up to find Carolynn Walker in her home stealing her mobile phone – described as her “one lifeline to the outside world.”
Walker, 31, knew her victim was vulnerable because the kind woman had previously invited her in for a glass of water.
But that didn’t stop the burglar climbing in through a bedroom window and removing a portable CCTV camera to cover her tracks.
When the victim shouted “what are you doing?” Walker took the phone and ran – locking the front door and taking her keys.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Walker, known as Kaz, struck at the bungalow in Walton, at 7.44am, on July 24 this year.
Judge Murray jailed Walker for 10 months, who sobbed, then asked: “Am I going away?”
“You are,” he replied.
Thomas Mee, John Barlow and Vincent Ball
Liverpool men Thomas Mee, 42, John Barlow, 58, and Vincent Ball, 52, were behind a string of break-ins targeting the rich and famous.
The gang struck at the homes of Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay and Bury FC owner Steve Dale.
A total of more than £550,000 of jewellery, watches and handbags was taken from 14 properties across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2018.
The men dropped watches worth nearly £500,000 as they fled the Prestbury home of Mr Dale last October. They were then arrested, ending their crime spree.
Mee, of Queens Drive Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and handling stolen goods. Ball, of Ranworth Place and Barlow, of no fixed address, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
Judge Steven Everett told Chester Crown Court Mee was at the top of the gang, organising the break-ins and then selling on the stolen goods.
He pointed to the £125,000 in cash which police found at Mee’s city centre apartment after his arrest last year.
Mee was jailed for eight years and seven months, Barlow for seven years and six months and Ball for six years and nine months.
Speaking after the trio were locked up, a Cheshire Police spokesman said: “A significant level of planning and preparation went into each burglary, with the trio travelling hundreds of miles to commit the offences and specifically targeting the homes of high profile businessmen and women, footballers and celebrities.
“In these 14 incidents alone they caused damage and stole property to a total value of more than £600,000.
“The impact of their crime spree should not be underestimated. To know that criminals have been in your home – the place you should be able to feel most safe – rifled through your property and stole your personal possessions is sickening.”