A THIEF who stole thousands of pounds worth of possessions from Henley Rugby Club’s women’s team
A THIEF who stole thousands of pounds worth of possessions from Henley Rugby Club’s women’s team has been jailed for five years.
Alan Philip, 62, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Friday for one count of burglary and one of theft.
Philip, unemployed, of no fixed address, stole the items from the changing rooms during the women’s match at Hove Rugby Club in East Sussex in January.
He admitted theft of a bag of possessions including mobile phones and two wedding rings and burglary with intent to steal at the Monmouth School sports pavilion in Gwent in June.
The Hawks players traced the thief using the internet and software on their stolen mobile phones after he accidentally took a photo with one of the devices.
Sussex Police officers visited Dry Leas to return some of the items recovered but these didn’t include any of the 20-plus phones or the rings.
The court had heard how physiotherapist Louise Carr handed over the items to Philip, thinking he was an official from the opposing team.
Most of the visiting players were outside warming up when Miss Carr and a player coach were approached by Philip posing as a home club official while they were still in the changing rooms at Hove recreation ground.
He said he was locking up and would store the team’s possessions for them for safety. Instead, he made off with two bags full of valuables, which also included bracelets and several sets of house and car keys.
The theft was only discovered after the match, which the Hawks won 12-7, when the women returned to the changing rooms.
The players had a stroke of luck when the thief inadvertently took the picture on coach Alistair Mortimore’s stolen phone, a Nokia Lumia 830, of another phone on a distinctive red bedspread.
The picture automatically appeared on his Microsoft OneDrive account, which allows users to access photos and files from almost anywhere, the day after the theft. Meanwhile, player Amy Atkinson managed to follow the thief’s movements via the tracking application installed on her stolen phone.
Another player used the website Trip Advisor to search for hotels and bed and breakfasts on Brighton seafront near the last known location of Miss Atkinson’s phone.
Coupled with the picture of the bedspread, she spotted a photo from a hotel she believed matched.
The club tipped off Sussex Police who went to the Atlantic Seafront Hotel in Brighton two days after the theft and arrested Philip.
He was also ordered by the court to pay a victim surcharge of Â£120.