A brazen thief hid in shops to wait until they were closed – and then ransacked them at night to steal hauls which included £10,000 of jewellery.
Barry Boyden even used a wheelbarrow he stole to carry the loot out with him after hiding in Wickes overnight.
The 45-year-old also hid in Argos in Wolverhampton, but he avoided a prison term after a judge took an ‘extraordinary’ course of action to spare him.
Boyden, of Grafton Court, off Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton, was found guilty at a trial of stealing the jewellery from Argos in December 2012, as well as using the same trick to steal six drills from Wickes in West Street, Dunstall Hill in the same month.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that, in the 18 months since the offences took place, Boyden had turned his life around, and was now living a drug free life.
Mr Adrian Redford, prosecuting, said: "When the staff locked up at Wickes he revealed himself and stole six Mikita drills worth £109.99 each.
"He used wheelbarrows to carry the drills and it appears that one of these wheelbarrows was stolen.
"He employed the same modus operandi at an Argos store in Wolverhampton, and after operating hours he stole just over £10,000 worth of jewellery."
He said Boyden had a lengthy record, including 145 previous offences.
But Mr Jas Mann, for Boyden, said he had turned his life around, as detailed in an 'extraordinary' pre-sentence report that was handed to Judge John Wait.
Mr Mann said: "He was no doubt a lost cause about a year ago be he has changed his life.
"This is the most promising report I have read for a long time - it's extraordinary.
"To his credit he has maintained a drug free status, he hasn't reoffended and has not been arrested in a long time.
"He is now beginning to think through his options for the first time in a long time."
Judge Wait sentenced Boyden to 16 months for both offences to run concurrently, but said he would suspend the sentence.
He said: "You have got an appalling record of dishonesty.
"You saw the opportunity to obtain further means from these two shops by staying in them after they had closed and stealing valuable products.
"It is an extraordinary report and I am going to take an extraordinary course.
"That sentence will be suspended for two years.
"There is an overwhelming probability that your plea of not guilty was maintained because you could see for the first time how much you had to lose.
"It is not your fault that it has taken an extraordinarily long time to get to court."
Boyden was also given a two-year probation order.Subscribe to our Newsletter