A TEENAGE “creeper burglar” raided a family’s home when they were asleep upstairs to steal because he owed money to drug dealers.

Rhys Jones, 19, broke into a house in Rhymney to raise cash to pay back traffickers after it was believed he was a County Lines victim.

He was homeless, “desperate” and in thrall to a criminal gang from London, a judge was told.

Jones was living in a shed at the time of the burglary which he carried out last month.

Janet McDonald, prosecuting, said Jones raided the house during the early hours of the morning on January 8.

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He took a Toyota Yaris after the break-in, drove to petrol stations in Tredegar and Merthyr Tydfil and used a stolen bank card to buy goods.

He also took clothes, an Apple Watch and alcohol during the burglary.

Miss McDonald added: “When the defendant was arrested, he told an officer, ‘I haven’t nicked any car. It wasn’t me mate.’”

Detectives found good quality CCTV images of him committing fraud at the petrol stations and was recognised by the another officer.

Jones, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to burglary, taking a conveyance without authority and two counts of fraud.

Ben Waters, representing the defendant, said: “This is what is commonly known as a creeper burglary.

“There is no evidence to suggest he made his way upstairs where he could expect that people were sleeping.

“The police were called and a police dog tracked the defendant’s scent.”

He added: “This is a deeply sad case. He was living in shed which is where some of the stolen property was recovered.

“When the defendant was in his youth he may have been exploited by County Lines offenders from London.

“He was desperate in order to raise money for a debt.”

Recorder Dyfed Llion Thomas sent Jones to a young offender institution for 16 months.

He was ordered to pay a £156 victim surcharge following his release from custody.

The prosecutor told the court the defendant had previous convictions for burglary which were committed when he was aged 15 and 16.

After sentence, Detective Constable Peter Clegg, from Gwent Police, said: “We’re pleased to see Jones jailed for his crime, burglary can have a devastating impact on victims and we remain committed to investigating all such offences and prosecuting offenders.”