A METAL thief caught in the act of stripping lead from the roof of a listed building was jailed for nine months at Lincoln Crown Court.
Leon Hutchinson, 27, of Station Road, New Waltham, Grimsby, was arrested on New Years’ Eve after police were called to the Grade 2 listed Bass Maltings building on Mareham Lane, Sleaford.
Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said Hutchinson was found inside the building along with another man.
The pair removed lead from the roof of the 19th century building, which is awaiting redevelopment, and were preparing to take it away.
Mr Scott said: “It was a planned offence. They were equipped with a vehicle and tools. Police were alerted by telephone calls from a member of the public who heard roof slates being broken.
“When officers arrived they entered the building cautiously.
“It was dark and there were gaping holes in the floor.”
The officers saw the two men dragging lead behind them and arrested them as they tried to leave.
When Hutchinson was arrested he told officers how he discovered details of the building on the internet and decided to see what he could steal before redevelopment work began.
Hutchinson admitted burglary and possession of a bladed article which was found on him following his arrest.
He asked for a further five offences to be taken into consideration involving breaking in to buildings at South Cockerington, North Ormsby, Manby Park and Tetford and stealing metal including lead, copper and brass.
A 19-year-old man who was arrested with him was released by police without charge after accepting a caution.
Catarina Sjolin, defending, said Hutchinson was in debt at the time and needed money.
She said: “The properties he targeted were derelict. H
“He did entirely the wrong thing after he found himself in financial difficulties.
“He is now out of debt having sold the cars that were the pride and joy of his life.”