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No jail for reformed addict who stole charity boxes from mosques

By John Scott | Smethwick | Crime | Published:

A drug addict, who raided charity collection boxes to fund his £150-a-day heroin habit, has been spared jail after beating the addiction.

Hamza Jahangir targeted mosques six times together with a post office and a care home during a month long one-man crime wave, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The 30-year-old turned to crime to pay for his addiction after losing his job.

"It was a campaign of concentrated activity out of nowhere during which he deliberately targeted mosques knowing they would have charity boxes and money," said Mr Edward Soulsby, prosecuting.

Jahangir stole an unknown amount of money from the donation box at the Masjid Mosque in Dudley Road, Winson Green, on July 4 and escaped with around £400 from the Jamia Mosque in Oldbury Road, Smethwick, the following day.

He also tried but failed to lever the box off the wall at the Jami Masjid and Islamic Centre in Dartmouth Street, West Bromwich.

He escaped with a charity box from another mosque believed to have held at least £2,000 but was arrested and released on bail while trying to steal more cash from the Jamia Mosque ten days later.

The next day he was spotted rifling through the trolley basket of a resident with dementia outside the Holly Grange Care Home in Mallin Street, Smethwick.

Staff stopped him stealing and sent him packing again four days later, continued Mr Soulsby.

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The defendant broke into the post office in Smethwick's West Cross Shopping Centre on August 1, took £350 but left his DNA at the scene.

He gave himself up to police on December 25 after weaning himself off drugs and had been held in custody since then.

Miss Samantha Powis, defending, said: "He funded his £100 to £150-a-day drug addiction while at work but lost control after a foot injury cost him his job.

"He remembers little of his month of crime because of the drugs but realised it had to stop.

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"He voluntarily detoxified himself before going to the police knowing that being held in custody would help him to stay clean."

Jahangir of no fixed address pleaded guilty to theft, burglary, possession of heroin and attempted theft. The exact amount stolen is unclear but it was blown on drugs and gambling.

He was given a 20-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to attend rehabilitation courses while completing 100 hours unpaid work.

A restraining order banned him from going near the Holly Grange care home for five years.

Judge James Burbidge QC said the prison sentence was suspended because the defendant had already spent the equivalent of a 12-month term behind bars while on remand, had detoxified himself and was of previous good character.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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