Dash cam footage ends reign of terror by dangerous burglar
- Credit: Cambs Police
A burglar targeted eight houses beginning in Soham in a six-day crime spree, a court heard.
During one of his eight burglaries – and often with accomplices – a victim was threatened with a crowbar.
And they were seen on CCTV fleeing their crashed car clutching double-barrelled firearms.
James Connors, 21, was only caught thanks to forensics, a myriad of stolen items and an unexpected car dash cam recording.
He targeted his first victim, in Soham, on June 15 2019.
A man was upstairs watching TV with his wife when they heard a car door close.
They looked out and saw Connors and another man drive off in their Volkswagen Golf R.
They had broken into the house to steal the ignition keys.
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Two days later power tools, £130 worth of euros, a Sainsbury’s Nectar card and wallet were stolen in a burglary in Thetford.
Two days later, Connors and three other men carried out an aggravated burglary in Mildenhall.
The men used a crowbar to break a patio door window and two were confronted in the property by the homeowner.
They threatened the victim with the crowbar but were chased out of the house.
Connors was then involved in four more burglaries that day:
With two other men he stole four watches worth £4,000 from a house in King Street, Somersham.
CCTV the men running off at 1.13pm, with one of them jumping on the shed roof to avoid the family dog.
A house in Chapel Close, Hilton, was broken into with items, including a china frog, stolen.
Two homes in Staploe, St Neots, had gold jewellery, alcohol, coins, shotguns and a rifle stolen.
That same evening, the burglars white VW Golf collided with another car and those inside the Golf fled on foot - a number of them carrying long-barrelled firearms.
The Golf was found to be the vehicle stolen from Soham four days earlier.
In the boot were three of the stolen watches from the Somersham burglary, and other items stolen from Hilton, St Neots addresses and the stolen wallet from Thetford.
Forensics teams matched DNA from the Golf to Connors, of Oxford Road, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
Connors was arrested and initially gave a fake name and date of birth to police.
He refused to answer questions.
But a further breakthrough came when Connors was linked to another burglary in Norfolk.
Three men were caught on a car’s dashcam footage which, unknowingly to the victim, had recorded the moments leading up to the burglary in Howdale Road, Downham Market.
Police were called at just before 3pm on 6 November 2018 by the victim, who told them he had found two men in his kitchen after coming downstairs.
He gave detailed descriptions of the men, and told police how he had challenged the pair who then ran out of his back door.
His car’s dash cam had been recording and caught Connors and his accomplices on camera.
Their getaway car was found abandoned eight days later and checks showed it was registered to an address in Beck Row, Bury St Edmunds.
The car was forensically examined and Connors’ DNA was found on a beer bottle from the nearside door pocket.
On the day his trial was due to start, Connors admitted charges of conspiracy to commit burglary with intent to steal between 14 and 20 June 2019, burglary with intent to steal, dangerous driving and obstructing a PC.
He was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on August 19 to six years and eight months in prison.
DC Zoe Patten, who investigated, said: “This was a shocking series of burglaries.
“Connors brazenly thought he could target houses across Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties and escape justice. He was wrong.
“I would like to praise the bravery of those who were met in their own homes by complete strangers and confronted them, in some cases chasing them outside.”
He added: “The sentencing judge was very clear about the huge impact burglary has on victims.
“It can devastate victims for years after and they no longer feel safe in their homes.”