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Deerstalkers and crowbars: Burglary duo's hats give police head start

By John Scott | Crime | Published:

It did not need Sherlock Holmes to trace two men who wore deerstalker hats throughout a burglary spree, a judge heard.

Shane Watkins, left, and Patrick Rafferty, right, were both given prison sentences

The distinctive headgear gave police a major breakthrough in the hunt for the pair, who had targeted four Wolverhampton homes within a couple of hours, the city’s crown court was told.

Patrick Rafferty and Shane Watkins staged a car key break in Newbridge Crescent, Tettenhall, but crashed the occupant’s Mercedes into the garden wall and were forced to run away.

They also attempted three other burglaries in neighbouring streets during the early hours of November 7, said Mr Robert Cowley, prosecuting.

A deerstalker hat (Library picture)

A resident in Balfour Crescent, Newbridge, was woken at 3.30am by the sound of voices and his metal gate being tampered with.

He looked out of the window and saw two men, one of whom was clutching a crowbar. Both were wearing deerstalkers.

The homeowner checked his CCTV to discover the men had spent half an hour looking through windows, trying handles and climbing over the metal gate in a bid to break into the address.

He downloaded stills from the footage, one of which was a close up of the two suspects in their headgear.

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“This enabled the police to link them with further offences,” continued Mr Cowley.

'Don't be a hero'

Rafferty, aged 30, and 27-year-old Watkins struck next at two addresses in Newbridge Crescent.

They only got into the porch of the first but woke the occupant of another house in the street by smashing the front window.

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The raiders got through the shattered glass to grab the keys to the Mercedes parked on the drive. They started the engine but backed into the garden wall.

When the owner appeared at the front door Watkins got out of the damaged vehicle holding the crow bar like a cricket bat and warned: “Forget about it - don’t be a hero,” the court heard.

The advice was taken and the burglar climbed back into the car but Rafferty could not manoeuvre it off the drive and the pair ran off.

Soon afterwards they were filmed by CCTV still wearing their hats while trying unsuccessfully to get into both a house round the corner in Hordern Road and the car parked outside the property.

The police investigations revealed Rafferty, of Riches Street, Wolverhampton, had stolen a £35,000 Jaguar from an address in Stokes Gardens,Tettenhall, in a burglary committed on October 25. He was convicted after a trial.

Both Rafferty and Watkins, of St Michael's Court, Tettenhall, who were drug addicts with extensive criminal records, admitted the other offences and were jailed for six years and three years eight months respectively.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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