Thief jailed after stealing suitcase on trainBy Lucy Thorne
May 10, 2012
A thief who stole a suitcase containing sentimental possessions and credit cards from a train has been jailed for three years after he was caught on CCTV.
Julian Percy Hodgkins, 45, of Alder Close, Lower Earley, was jailed at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, May 2 after admitting theft and two counts of fraud.
The court heard the victims - a mother, father and daughter from Bath - were returning from holiday on Friday, 29 April last year, when they boarded a train at Paddington carrying three large suitcases, a violin case, a shoulder bag and a small case, which they placed in the luggage racks.
Station CCTV showed Hodgkins closely following the family onto the train without any luggage.
He was then captured on camera leaving the train at Reading station carrying a small case belonging to the family.
The court heard he left the scene, boarding another train towards London Waterloo, where the case was found abandoned.
The case, which the family reported missing that evening, contained personal possessions including precious jewellery – the majority of which was stolen.
But a few days later Hodgkins used one of the credit cards to withdraw £500 from a cash point in Lower Earley.
The card was subsequently blocked, although Hodgkins had unsuccessfully tried to take out further cash on May 1 last year.
British Transport Police (BTP) identified Hodgkins after viewing CCTV. His fingerprints matched those prints found on the case and he was charged.
BTP Detective Constable Ian Waudby, investigating officer, said: “The victims were targeted by Hodgkins while they were preoccupied, weary from travelling and sitting away from their luggage.
“They were unaware their belongings had been stolen until they arrived at Bath station. At that point it was late at night, they had no car or house keys and were left extremely distressed by the theft of their possessions, which held great sentimental value to them.
“Luckily some of their most precious possessions were hidden in their case and have been retrieved, however they have been left out of pocket by around £9,500.
“I hope this sentence sends a strong message to thieves that thanks to brilliant CCTV around the rail network, they will be caught and brought to justice.”
Police advice for passengers travelling with luggage:
- Always keep your belongings close by
- Check your luggage regularly
- Be extra vigilant when the train stops at a station
- If you move to another carriage, take your valuables with you - never leave them unattended
- Report suspicious behaviour to a member of staff or a police office