Burglar risked lives by cutting gas pipe
POLICE officers have been commended for their bravery after they went into a house to arrest a burglar who cut through a gas pipe.
Officers were called to the semi-detached house in Cumberbatch Avenue, Fegg Hayes, on April 28, after a neighbour heard noises coming from the unoccupied property.
Police were met with a strong smell of gas when they arrived at the house to arrest 20-year-old Kyle Johnson.
The crook shouted from an upstairs window that he would come out, but instead he hid in the loft.
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And officers were forced to risk their own lives by entering the house.
Prosecutor Jonathan Veasey-Pugh yesterday told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court the home's owner had emptied the property on April 20 but left all the utilities connected.
He added: "A neighbour heard a loud banging noise which sounded like somebody hitting the pipes.
"Police arrived to find the ground floor kitchen window forced.
"The defendant was seen in an upstairs window and two jackets were left on a wheelie bin.
"The defendant said he was coming but he went to hide in the loft space. He tried to conceal himself underneath the insulation."
The court heard Johnson told police he had known the house was empty and had gone in to steal copper piping.
Mr Veasey-Pugh said: "In the kitchen he attempted to rip the pipe from the wall.
"Gas could be heard hissing out. Before Johnson was located a police dog and a brave officer searched while the gas was still hissing.
"Another officer isolated the supply. Fortunately there was no explosion."
Johnson, of Recorder Grove, Chell Heath, pleaded guilty to burglary.
Peter McCartney, mitigating, conceded the damage to the gas pipe created a danger, but he said it was an impulsive act which was unplanned.
Recorder Stephen Lowne sentenced Johnson to seven months in a young offenders' institution, suspended for two years with two years of supervision.
And he must undergo sessions with Aquarius alcohol services and attend six appointments with the YSS (Youth Support Services) scheme.
Recorder Lowne commended the bravery of the officers and told Johnson: "It seems quite clear you attended the property to steal some copper. You cut through copper pipes.
"You could have blown up that property and the house next door. That was the risk you put other people into and also the police officers who were charged to come and arrest you. You heightened that risk by not coming out when you said you would.
"I take a serious view of this offence. You put others in danger."