Shoe prints helped catch prolific Exmouth and Budleigh burglar

A PROLIFIC burglar who stole from homes in Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth has been jailed after prints from his shoes linked him to his crimes.

A PROLIFIC burglar who stole from homes in Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth has been jailed after prints from his shoes linked him to his crimes.

Career criminal Simon Leo Berkowitz, who admitted the offences, was recently jailed for three years and four months at Newport Crown Court, on the Isle or Wight.

Cops at Exmouth say burglaries have decreased in East Devon since Berkowitz was put behind bars.

Berkowitz admitted the crimes after tread from his shoes was forensically linked to the crime scenes.

His shoes were seized at the time of a previous arrest and couriered to Coventry where specialists matched the imprints to earlier burglaries.

He was finally brought to justice after committing burglaries in Devon, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and also handling stolen goods.

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After Exmouth officers presented Berkowitz's legal team with evidence of his shoe prints, the offender was advised by his brief to plead guilty to four counts of burglary, an attempted burglary and one count of handling stolen goods.

Detective constable Darren Campbell, at Exmouth, said: "Our forensic evidence was overwhelming. We have been able to convict him of four offences but we think it's just the tip of the iceberg of his offending.

"This man has never worked or had a proper income. He was a very experienced and adept burglar who knew what he was doing.

"His capture had a significant impact on the burglary rates in East Devon."

A burglar since his early teens, Berkowitz first came to the attention of the police in the early 60s.

His crime spree spanned the whole of the south coast, including Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

Berkowitz, from Hove, in East Sussex, targeted affluent homes when he knew the occupants were likely to be away.

The police said the offender owned his own home outright despite never having a full-time job, and made a living from crime using stolen credit cards and cash.

Exmouth detectives had been trailing Berkowitz since 2005, following a burglary in Ottervale Road, Budleigh Salterton, where a partial DNA match on a teacup at the premises linked him to the crime.

He was interviewed by Exmouth detectives in 2005 while in prison on the Isle of Wight, but a lack of evidence meant no further action was taken.

Because of his long criminal career, officers said Berkowitz played the system at every turn and regularly challenged police evidence in court.

In autumn 2008 he was still at large to loot a home in Elwyn Road, Exmouth, breaking in through patio doors.

In the same month he targeted a home in Cliff Road, Budleigh Salterton, where jewellery worth �3,000 was among his haul.

Officers said he stayed in bed and breakfasts in the area and also rested or slept in the homes he had burgled.

He did not drive and travelled between crimes using public transport or walking the coast path - travelling as far as Cumbria.

When a victim spotted Berkowitz casing a property in Cranford Avenue, Exmouth, the day after committing a burglary, officers realised the crook was not shy to return to his previous crime scenes.

His attention turned to Sidmouth where he looted a cottage in Cliff Road and attempted to steal from a home in Hillside Road.

Cops arrested and charged him for carrying gloves, a torch and a jemmy.

He appeared in court, was released on bail, but failed to return.

But his luck had run out because the cops had seized his shoes, linking him to his crimes.