A BURGLAR who targeted empty homes while out on bail has been jailed after the GPS on his ankle tag linked him to each of the houses he burgled.

Mark Russell, of Moorland Road in Ebbw Vale, was out on bail for an unrelated matter, and therefore had to wear an ankle monitor.

But, between October and November last year, Russell embarked on a spate of burglaries at homes in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar which were under renovation.

Russell stole tools – including a £3,400 concrete breaker and an £800 whacker plate – hobs, ovens, radios, showers, a sink and floodlights – amongst other items.

The value of the items stolen, and the damage caused getting into the properties, totalled around £13,680, prosecutor Rhodri Jones told the court.


After an item stolen from one of the homes was discovered in Russell's van, officers looked at the GPS tracking data from his ankle tag and placed him at the scene of each burglary.

A subsequent search of his home found four more items stolen from the properties.

He initially denied the charges, telling officers “he bought and sold lots of stuff”, and “bought things as cheaply as possible and didn’t ask questions about where they had come from”, Mr Jones said.

When told that GPS data placed him at the scene of each burglary, he “stated that it didn’t place him at the address,” said Mr Jones.

“The premises were deliberately targeted. All of the properties were under renovation with tools and equipment stolen,” said the prosecutor.

Peter Donnison, in mitigation, said: “The defendant was heavily using drugs at the time of these offences.

“He was on benefits at the time. As a result of his drug addiction, he found himself slipping out of control.

“The defendant was aware all the houses were unoccupied. He specifically targeted them as they were empty so he did not disturb anyone.”

Mr Donnison said Russell admitted his record was “significant”, with 22 convictions for 39 offences – including 17 for theft.

At Cardiff Crown Court, Russell, 32, admitted seven counts of burglary.

Addressing Russell, Judge Wayne Beard said: “You engaged in what the newspapers will no doubt describe as 'a spree'.

“You are a man who engages in burglary whenever the matter comes to needing money of some sort to deal with your drug addiction.

“I take into account there is a compulsion when it comes to addiction.”

Judge Beard sentenced him to three years and four months in prison for each offence, running concurrently.

He must also pay a £190 surcharge.