Stolen clocks crook is jailed

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The son of a burglary victim turned detective to help recover two valuable clocks stolen from a house in Lavenham, a court has been told.

The trail took the man to Woodbridge where the clocks had been sold to a dealer for £2,000 by Michael Hart, also from Lavenham, claiming they had belonged to his grandfather.

On Monday at Ipswich Crown Court Hart, 48, of Meadow Close, was jailed for a total of 26 months after pleading guilty to converting criminal property, burglary at a house in Belvedere Road, Ipswich and possession of class A and C drugs.

Prosecutor Michael Crimp said the two clocks, a carriage clock and one dating from the 18th century, had been stolen during a burglary at a property in High Street, Lavenham in July last year.

An antique dealer in Long Melford gave the son of the victim details of an antique clock specialist in Woodbridge who it emerged had been approached by a man offering the clocks for sale and who was paid £2,000 for them.

Mr Crimp said that as a result of the victim’s son contacting the dealer, the clocks were recovered and Hart was arrested.

When interviewed, Hart had told police that he had purchased the clocks for £140 from a car boot sale at Needham Market and he admitted that because of the low price he thought there could be ‘something dodgy’ about them.

Hart said that he had researched the clocks and discovered they could be worth as much a £4,000.

The court heard that in January Hart had burgled a house in Belvedere Road, Ipswich, stealing a laptop computer containing irreplaceable family photos, a PlayStation, a camcorder, an iPod and cash worth in total £1,500. The owner had returned home to find a rear window had been smashed with a brick, said Mr Crimp.

Police were able to use DNA technology to link Hart with traces of blood found at the house in Ipswich. When arrested he was found to be in possession of £300 worth of heroin and diazepam.

Hart’s arrest came during Operation Drawbridge, a county-wide anti burglary initiative by Suffolk Police.

Defending, Lori Tucker said Hart, who had a drug habit, was remorseful. Since being held on remand in prison Hart had obtained help to address his drug use.