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Burglar traced to seaside camping hideout

A prolific thief has been sent to a youth offenders institute for a series of burglaries in Solihull – after West Midlands Police traced him to his seaside campsite hiding place.

Lewis Tilley (pictured) was wanted in connection with three house raids in a matter of weeks, including one at a family home in Dorridge on April 22 where a computer and sentimental jewellery was stolen.

Detectives identified the 19-year-old as a suspect when officers responding to a 1am call for help in Rashwood Close, Hockley Heath, on March 10 found a mobile phone that had been dropped in a garden.

Lewis Tilley

Examination of its contacts and messages linked it to Tilley – who has 25 convictions for theft, robbery, burglary and other offences dating back to 2009 when he was just 11 – but he evaded capture despite several arrest attempts at addresses.

However, enquiries pointed to him lying low at a campsite in Brean and on 18 June he was arrested from a car in Washwood Heath Road having been tracked heading north on the M5 from the Somerset holiday spot.

He denied the burglaries, plus a car theft in Highgate and a failed break-in at Tutnall Drive in Hockley Heath, and refused to answer any police questions. 

But in the face of compelling evidence he later admitted burglary, attempted burglary and car theft and at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (July 21) was sent to a youth offenders institute for three years.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Kate Fitzgerald, said: “Tilley is still a teenager but has a string of burglary offences to his name; he has broken into properties in the middle of the night and also struck at family homes. 

“It seems he doesn’t care who he hurts or what psychological damage he inflicts on victims. One woman awoke to find him rooting through her home – and it’s lucky children were not home when he struck at the family address.

“Tilley thought he could avoid capture at a campsite in Somerset but we found him and he’s now swapped a beautiful seaside spot for a youth offenders institute.

“We offer people like Tilley a way to escape a life of crime: with partner agencies we have programmes designed to rehabilitate offenders. But if they refuse to engage with us and continue offending they can expect to spend much of their life locked away from society.” 

Tilley also struck at a house in Coventry Road, Solihull on 28 April having kicked open a wooden front door but made off after being disturbed by a neighbour. 

West Midlands Police has embarked on a concerted blitz on burglars and offenders who cause most misery in communities – and two recent ‘All Out Days’ have netted more than 100 suspects.

Members of the public can play their part in helping catch offenders and are urged to check out the force’s Most Wanted gallery. Anyone with information is asked to call the force on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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