CCTV footage captured of Mark Harris during the investigation
Further CCTV footage helped identify Harris due to the clothing he wore
Officers were able to link Harris's clothing to CCTV footage
Footwear and clothing worn by Harris was linked with footage capturing some offences
A man who admitted breaking into 23 cars and using bank cards stolen from within the vehicles has been jailed thanks to the dedication of a Rochford Town Centre Team officer.
Mark Harris, of Leicester Avenue, Rochford, was jailed for a total of 48 weeks after he admitted a string of charges when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 28 December 2023.
The 39-year-old admitted to all 23 charges, including vehicle interference, thefts from cars and vans and fraud by false representation.
The Town Centre Team officers launched an investigation after a report of a parked car being broken into in Rochford on 2 October 2023.
The car owner reported a bottle of perfume, bank cards and £100 cash were stolen from the car.
Two days later the owner notified us that there had been two declined transactions on their bank account after their card was presented in two shops in the subsequent period.
Officers obtained CCTV which captured a man attempting to purchase goods at two shops in Rochford and Grays. Mark Harris was identified as the man in the footage.
As part of the investigation, a Town Centre Team officer trawled through crime reports, identifying further incidents where cars and vans across the Rochford district had been broken into and a range of items stolen – from three pairs of designer sunglasses valued at £940 to phone chargers, wallets, and bank cards.
The dedicated officer re-opened cases and interviewed witnesses, collecting valuable CCTV showing a similar MO.
Upon watching the CCTV, Mark Harris’s image was captured at several locations.
The vehicle crimes dated as far back as 30 August 2023, when headphones were stolen from a car in Rochford, to the last incident on 14 November in Westcliff, when a purse was stolen from a car and £399 was spent in the fraudulent use of bank cards taken from the car.
Mark Harris was arrested at his home address on Christmas Eve 2023 and remanded in custody to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court four days later.
'CCTV proved vital in this case'
Officer in the case PC Trevor Phillips said:
“Mark Harris was identified because of good quality CCTV footage which captured some of the offences, alongside some good old-fashioned detective work. “In some of the footage, where Harris’s face couldn’t be clearly seen, he was identified based on the clothing he wore. “All of the images showed the person wearing identical clothing. “When Harris was arrested, these items of clothing were recovered from his address, making it very difficult to deny his involvement in any one of the incidents. “This investigation shows the extensive lengths we will go to in order to bring thieves to justice in Essex.”
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