Burglar jailed for breaking into The Fun Factory in Fenton for drugs cash
THE owner of a children's play centre has praised the police for their swift action in bringing a burglar to justice.
Convicted thief Keiron Roberts broke into The Fun Factory, in King Street, Fenton, to try and find items to sell for drugs.
After climbing into the centre through the roof, he made off with a bin bag stuffed with chocolate and sweets as well as a quantity of cash.
North Staffordshire Magistrates yesterday heard that the 26-year-old was seen walking along the road by a police officer, following the break-in during the early hours of Saturday.
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The officer noticed that Roberts was carrying a large, black bag and when it split, piles of confectionery spilled out on to the ground.
Addict Roberts, of Chatsworth Place, Meir, told police what he had done and pleaded guilty to burglary in court yesterday.
Magistrates were told that the break-in was motivated by his drug dependency.
At an earlier hearing, Roberts had pleaded guilty to two offences of shop theft from the Co-op, in Longton, in March and was already awaiting sentence for those matters when he committed the burglary.
He was jailed for a total of 12 weeks – four weeks for the shop thefts and eight weeks for the burglary – yesterday.
Diane Shackson, defending, said: "My client has admitted what he has done and I am asking the court to give him credit for his early guilty plea to the burglary."
But the owner of the Fun Factory, who did not want to be named, said she believed a stronger sentence should have been imposed.
She said: "The prison sentence is not long enough.
"We were very upset to discover what had happened.
"I don't agree that it is much of a punishment considering the amount of damage that was caused.
"To me it is very serious. I would never dream of this happening to us."
Staff discovered holes in the roof of the building when they arrived at work shortly before 9am on Saturday.
They then desperately tried to get hold of a roofer to try and repair the damage before they were due to open at 9.30am.
But despite being upset at the sentence, staff at the Fun Factory said the police officers dealing with the case were very supportive.
The owner added that the amount and cost of the damage was still being assessed.
She said: "We were very lucky we were able to open because we managed to get a roofer in at the last minute.
"The police were fantastic in catching the burglar straight away but we found the whole thing very upsetting.
"We had to work really hard to get the centre open because we had a number of parties booked that day.
"He came through the roof and left substantial damage, there were holes everywhere.
"We don't know how much it is going to cost."
The centre has been able to remain open for business during its usual times of 9.30am until 6pm between Monday and Saturday, and from 10am until 5pm on Sundays.