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A man who admitted burgling homes and a store in North Dorset has been jailed.

Anthony James Higgins, aged 31 and of Beaufoy Close, Shaftesbury, was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Tuesday 4 February 2020 after admitting three charges of burglary as well as offences of handling stolen goods, possessing a class B drug, careless driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving without valid insurance.

He was sentenced to a total of two years and 146 days in prison and also disqualified from driving for 12 months, with the ban due to begin when he is released from prison.

At around 3.50pm on Sunday 15 December 2019 Higgins entered the Spar store in Mampitts Lane in Shaftesbury, approached the counter and asked a staff member to check a scratch card for some winnings.

He then said he was going to walk around the shop and was seen to enter a backroom storage area.

Higgins was challenged by the staff member, who found three bottles of cider in his backpack that had been taken from a storage shelf. He was told to leave the shop and that he was banned.

Staff subsequently realised Higgins had taken the store keys from the door and the matter was reported to police.

That night a burglary was reported at another home in Shaftesbury. A number of Christmas presents were stolen as well as a laptop, wallet and iPhone.

The burglary was discovered on the morning of Monday 16 December 2019 and reported to police.

Later that day the victim found the laptop, wallet and a bag containing torn wrapping paper discarded near to their address. Their bank cards were missing from the wallet and one was subsequently used to withdraw £250 from a local cashpoint.

Anthony-Higgins burglary
Anthony Higgins.

Another dwelling burglary occurred at Shortedge in Sturminster Newton during the early hours of Tuesday 17 December 2019. Again a number of Christmas presents were stolen as well as some war medals, a bank card and other items.

An attempt was made to use the stolen bank card at the Co-op store in Sturminster Newton but this was declined.

At 10am that day Higgins was seen driving a grey Peugeot in the Tarrant Keyneston area. The vehicle made off but was subsequently stopped by officers. Prior to being stopped it was estimated to be driving at around 80mph in a 60mph limit and narrowly missed an oncoming vehicle at a roundabout.

A number of items stolen from the Sturminster Newton burglary were found in the vehicle.

A search of Higgins’ address also revealed a number of items stolen during the Gower Road burglary.

The handling stolen goods charge related to items found at Higgins’ address that were linked to a burglary in Salisbury Road in Shaftesbury that had occurred between Saturday 23 November and Tuesday 3 December 2019.

After Higgins was arrested he was searched in custody and was found to be in possession of a wrap of cannabis.

Sergeant James Francis, of North Dorset police, said:  ‘Anthony Higgins is a repeat offender who targeted a number of premises in a short period of time in December last year.

‘I am pleased that through the work of officers we were able to quickly identify him as the man responsible for these offences and he was arrested before he could commit further burglaries.

‘I am also glad that we were able to recover many of the items that were stolen in the burglaries.’

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