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September 15, 2012, 12:19 pm

A burglar targeting a house in Newcastle got more than he bargained for after Northumbria Police set up a “sting” to catch him out. 

Leon Haq broke into the ‘home’ in the Benwell area of the city’s west end and stole a television, laptop, mobile phone, landline telephone, DVD recorder, sat nav and backback – taking the bait in a police sting which caught him red-handed. 

The flat had been rigged up with hidden cameras by police as part of a crackdown on burglaries in the area. 

The stolen items had been marked with SmartWater, an invisible liquid with a unique ‘code’ which means stolen items can be tracked back to their rightful owners. 

Some of these were later recovered in Haq’s possession and identified via forensic analysis as being from the burglary. 

Haq, 31, of Hawthorn Close in Benwell, previously pleaded guilty to burglary and appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday, September 13 for sentence. 

He was jailed for 20 months after burgling the house in May this year. 

Neighbourhood Inspector Leigh McManus said: “Haq is the fourth person to be sentenced after being caught in the act burgling the sting houses. 

“The rigged homes proved an important tool as part of a wider operation to prevent burglaries in the west end and has been successful with large reductions in the targeted areas. 

“Burglary has a devastating impact on homeowners and those responsible have a complete disregard for the victims. 

“It should be noted the burglars targeting the sting houses had no idea we were watching them so as far as they were concerned anyone could have been inside at the time, including elderly residents or children. 

“I hope this reassures people that Northumbria Police will use every tactic and tool at its disposal to continue to prevent and detect burglaries across Newcastle and the force.” 

Insp McManus added that equally important to enforcement action is making sure residents have security advice. He added: “It’s vital residents have the relevant crime prevention advice to reduce their risk of falling victim to such a crime. 

“This includes locking doors and windows and ensuring valuables, particularly car keys, are stored securely out of sight and reach. Many houses in the Benwell area have property marked with SmartWater, which can be a vital tool in deterring thieves and ensuring recovered property is returned to the rightful owner.” 

Phil Cleary, Chief Executive of SmartWater, added: “We are delighted that SmartWater was able to support Northumbria Police and provide forensic evidence that has aided this conviction. Nationally SmartWater has been responsible for over 1,000 criminal convictions and maintains a 100% conviction rate in court.” 

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