Cars, cash, jewellery, even DEODORANT – this is what burglars raiding the homes of innocent people escaped with this year.
Thieves smashed their way into houses across Birmingham and the Black Country, leaving homeowners shaken and terrified.
In many cases, the vulnerable were targeted – with elderly residents falling victim to the callous thugs.
And in one incident, a burglar raided the home of a 98-year-old WW2 veteran, escaping with £200 in cash.
But, thanks to police investigations , many burglars were hauled before the courts this year – with some handed lengthy prison sentences for their crimes.
Here are the faces of the many house raiders jailed this year.
Robert Wayne Fieldhouse
Fieldhouse burgled the home of a family friend in Tividale, before embarking on a month-long crime spree in Sandwell and Dudley.
On August 27 this year, he broke into a garage at an address on Castle Road, Tipton, and stole the homeowner’s Suzuki.
Three days later, the owner spotted Fieldhouse brazenly driving his stolen car.
A few weeks later, he struck again – this time breaking into a house on Dudley Road, Tipton. He managed to steal jewellery and electrical items before getting spooked by an alarm.
Forensic investigators attended the scene and found a sample of blood on the bannister. The DNA was tested and found to match that of Fieldhouse.
DNA also linked him to another incident during which he smashed his way into a taxi and stole cash from inside.
In light of mounting evidence, the 38-year-old was arrested by officers on September 29 and subsequently charged with an array of crimes.
He pleaded guilty to 10 separate offences at Wolverhampton Crown Court and was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars.
The callous burglar targeted the home of a WW2 veteran – forcing his way into the 98-year-old’s home before snatching £200 in cash.
McDonnell broke into the Bordesley Green address at 11pm on September 26.
The victim – who served around the world with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm – phoned a friend who alerted West Midlands Police to the burglary.
Forensics experts found droplets of blood on a glass door pane the 40-year-old smashed as he tried forcing open the property’s front door – and when analysed it returned a DNA hit to McDonnell, who has a history of breaking into pensioners’ homes.
Detectives traced McDonnell, from Well Close in Bromford, to an address in Shirley where he was arrested on October 6.
He initially denied the offence and claimed to have cut himself while carrying out work at the victim’s address.
But he entered a guilty plea on the eve of his trial and at Birmingham Crown Court on November 5, he was jailed for four years four months, plus an additional eight months for handling stolen goods.
West Midlands Police Detective Constable Jen Horobin said: “Wesley McDonnell has a history of deliberately targeting elderly, vulnerable people he deems easy prey to steal from.”
Harrison and a 17-year-old – who was too young to legally be named – embarked on a violent campaign of break-ins over the space of just a few days in February.
CCTV caught the pair – and an unidentified third offender – attacking a property in Tudor Close, Kings Heath, on February 10 as they threatened the homeowner for keys to his VW Golf and BMW X1.
A paving slab, garden statue and plant pot were hurled through a glass door panel before knife wielding Harrison chopped at the window frame with a machete as the victim bravely tried fending them off with a cricket bat.
They eventually made off with the cars but they were arrested the following day, in a morning raid on an address on Stratford upon Avon.
Officers found several stolen cars parked nearby, keys to other stolen vehicles, plus the ‘zombie’ knife and skeleton Halloween masks worn during other robberies.
Harrison, of no fixed address, admitted five robberies and two attempted robberies, while his younger co-defendant admitted one less robbery but instead pleaded guilty to handling a car stolen from that address.
On September 6, Harrison was jailed for 12 years, while the 17-year-old was sent to a young offenders institute for nine years and nine months.
“Weapons were used and violence threatened; one victim had a meat cleaver held to his throat as they demanded keys to his vehicle. Some of the victims are struggling with the long-term psychological impact of their ordeals,” Detective Sergeant Goult said.
Williams smashed his way into a home on Anchor Lane, Solihull, overnight on June 7.
The 36-year-old fled with jewellery – but left a trail of blood after cutting his hand on glass.
A match with Williams was quickly established and other enquiries discovered some of the stolen items had been offered for sale near his home.
Williams, of Shustoke Road, Solihull, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to two years and five months at Birmingham Crown Court on August 7.
DC David Ballard, from Force CID at Solihull, said: “Through the expertise of our staff, we were able to trace a small sample of blood on the living room floor which ultimately helped us prove Williams was the burglar.
“We don’t underestimate the impact of being a victim of burglary. It is not only the loss of personal and potentially sentimental items but the thought of a stranger invading your privacy by searching through your home.”
The conwoman duped her way into the homes of elderly women – swiping cash, jewellery, mobile phones and a laptop.
Sly Simmons, of Over Pool Road, Ward End, committed a string of distraction burglaries in June – first preying on a 74-year-old woman with mobility issues.
She returned to the address again just days later, claiming to be the offender’s twin sister, but when her cover was blown she tore out telephone wires preventing the vulnerable victim from calling for help.
She also struck in Masefield Square at the home of a disabled woman but she was rumbled in the act by the victim’s son and ordered to leave.
On another occasion Simmons pretended to be a carer to gain access to the home of an 82-year-old woman and once inside stole a vintage handbag, cash and a gold watch.
But during her visit she took a swig of water from a mug, which was later recovered by police and sent for forensic analysis.
Tests found the DNA on the cup matched that of Simmons.
In custody, she denied all knowledge of what happened but went on to be charged with the three burglaries. On August 6, she was jailed for three years and four months at Birmingham Crown Court.
Investigating officer Jay Aston said: “She took advantage of people’s vulnerabilities and good nature for her own gain. These were nasty, calculated, pre-meditated crimes.”
The car key burglar was part of a gang who threatened a couple with knives in their own home.
Robinson and his associates forced entry to a property in Higgins Lane, Quinton, then demanded cash, jewellery and the keys to an Audi and BMW, which were driven away.
The terrifying raid happened in the early hours of March 1, and later that same day Robinson was stopped by officers carrying out searches in Winson Green. He was found to have the keys to the Audi.
He was detained and searches of his own car and home address recovered watches and cash stolen during the burglary.
The 19-year-old, of Carlisle Road, Winson Green, pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison.
DC Mark Timmins, from Force CID, said: “This was an awful and terrifying experience for the victims who were threatened in their own home.
“He has refused to disclose details about anyone else involved, but the investigation doesn’t end here and we are determined to trace the others and bring them to justice.”
Kadim Shah, John Shorthouse and Roshan Singh
The trio were jailed after conspiring to commit over 30 burglaries which included guns being stolen and sold on to criminal gangs in Birmingham.
Shah, Shorthouse and Singh repeatedly travelled to rural areas in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and South Birmingham, breaking into homes and stealing high value items such as cars, watches and – in some locations – legitimately owned shotguns.
Around £700,000 worth of goods were estimated to have been taken in the raids.
The three were all arrested in December last year after intelligence-led warrants were executed at their home addresses.
A ‘considerable’ amount of stolen property, balaclavas, tools and weapons were recovered from all three homes and around £4,000 worth of cocaine was also found in Shorthouse’s family address in Yardley Wood.
And on July 23 this year, they were sentenced to a total of 47 years and 10 months in prison.
Chief Inspector Ronan Tyrer, from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “The offences were unsophisticated and frightening, where these men turned up wearing balaclavas and smashed their way into properties in broad daylight. We’re currently in the process of reuniting recovered items with their owners.”
A Hall Green couple were left devastated when brazen Pulisciano – a dad-of-five – ransacked their home and escaped with a haul of ‘priceless’ sentimental jewellery.
He struck at the address on April 25, forcing his way through the back door and frantically searching rooms and drawers.
The homeowners, who were out at the time, returned to their Tixall Road house to find it had been ‘gutted’ and cherished items of jewellery were missing.
Less than three weeks later, Pulisciano struck again in broad daylight – this time attempting to break-in to an address on nearby Doveridge Road.
He was spotted by eagle-eyed neighbours who challenged him, but the 27-year-old pulled out a large screwdriver and threatened them.
He fled the scene but the neighbours gave chase, again he pulled out the screwdriver and threatened them.
Police arrived at the scene and arrested glove-wearing Pulisciano.
He was later jailed for 32 months after admitting charges of burglary, attempted burglary and threatening a person while in possession of an offensive weapon.
Tattooed Wellington was banged up after an eagle-eyed cop clocked him on CCTV – riding a stolen bike.
Wellington, and an unknown accomplice, broke into a house in St John’s Road, Pelsall, last July.
He lifted up a garden fence panel and forced open a window, stealing jewellery, cash and electrical items, before helping themselves to two bikes from a shed.
When police carried out a CCTV trawl of the area, one camera had caught 24-year-old Wellington and his accomplice riding the stolen bikes down the canal towpath.
The footage was shared on police systems and an officer was able to identify Wellington.
Although he evaded several arrest attempts, he was finally nicked after being spotted by officers on November 27.
Wellington initially tried to deny the offence, but pleaded guilty in light of the overwhelming evidence against him – and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday, January 4.
The vile burglar stalked his elderly neighbour before snatching an irreplaceable engagement ring from her late husband.
Mazher, 31, constantly watched the pensioner’s flat in Washbrook Road, Ward End, and pounced when she was taken out for the day.
As the 86-year-old enjoyed a rare trip out last summer, Mazher broke into her home and snatched £5k in jewellery.
But the bungling thief left his fingerprints at the scene – leading forensic experts right to him.
He was quickly identified by police and arrested.
In January he pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The callous and prolific thief carried out a burglary spree across Wolverhampton and Birmingham – carrying out 22 raids in just eight days last year.
He stole personal possessions, cars and bank cards which he then used to fraudulently buy items from shops.
Following extensive CCTV enquires, witness descriptions and fingerprint and DNA evidence recovered at the scene of the burglaries and from the cars he had stolen, police were able to immediately identify Mason.
He was apprehended two days later, on June 8, after being hit on the head by a homeowner who found Mason in his garden in East Park, Wolverhampton, with a laptop and phone.
Mason was arrested and charged with 25 counts of burglary.
In March this year, following a nine week trial where Mason represented himself, he was found guilty of 22 burglaries and sentenced to ten years in prison.
The crook was thwarted by student copper PC Ali Smith, who charged at him during a home raid in Sutton Coldfield.
Arnold had jumped from a first floor window of a house in Chester Road North and crashed through the conservatory.
Moments later, PC Smith – a former English teacher – speared hulking Arnold and grappled him before being dragged along an alleyway as the 16-stone thief tried in vain to escape her clutches.
She managed to pull him to the ground and kept him pinned down until colleagues – who’d responded to calls of a break-in at 5.45pm on December 22 – ran to her aid and helped detain the 43-year-old.
He was searched and found with gold jewellery and a silver serving plate swiped from the 61-year-old woman’s house, two kinder egg plastic capsules filled with crack cocaine.
Arnold, from Kilburn Road in Kingstanding , went on to be charged with burglary and, at Birmingham Crown Court on January 24, he was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
PC Smith said: “”Due to his size over my petite eight stone he managed to run some distance with me clinging to him.
“We eventually hit the deck; he was struggling and tried to break free but I was able to hold him on the ground before other officers arrived to help out.”
The blundering burglar was caught red-handed, nicking deodrant and hair clippers.
Marshall broke into a house on Reservoir Road, Erdington, only to be detained by a resident at the address.
When police arrived he was arrested and charged with burglary.
Marshall, of Grosvenor Road, Aston, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court in February and was jailed for three years.
DC Claire Smith, from Force CID, said: “We take burglary very seriously.
“People should be able to feel safe and protected in their homes.”
Coyne – dubbed ‘Britain’s dumbest thief’ – was jailed after cops caught him asleep in the back of a stolen car.
He swiped the keys to a Honda Civic and a handbag after breaking into a home in Brook Lane, Billesley.
The 39-year-old drove off in the Honda and enquiries quickly discovered he had used bank cards stolen from the bag at two nearby petrol stations.
Officers swiftly traced and found the car parked in Portrush Avenue, Kings Norton – eight hours after the burglary, in August last year.
They found Coyne fast asleep in the back and with the car keys in his pocket leading to his arrest.
Coyne, of Yardley Green, Acocks Green, admitted burglary partway through a trial and pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.
And in February this year, he was jailed for more than three years – 41 months in total – at Birmingham Crown Court.
The dangerous burglar who barged his way into an elderly couple’s home and threatened them with a knife has been jailed for seven years.
Critchley knocked on the door of a house in Wilford Road, West Bromwich, in October last year.
When the elderly couple opened the door, he pushed his way into the house and threatened them with a weapon.
He demanded cash and fled with £90.
Critchley struck again just two days later, when he followed an 80-year-old woman home after she got off the bus in Charlemont Farm.
As she was opening the door to her house, Critchley appeared and claimed he had just been mugged.
He asked if he could use her phone but when she let him in, he forced the terrified woman to lie on her bed while he searched her house before escaping with cash and jewellery.
The 38-year-old, appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court in March, where he was found guilty of the burglaries and sentenced to seven years in jail.