A SERIAL car thief has been jailed for driving off in a brand new Renault just hours after its proud new owner had taken delivery.
Simeon Francis spotted the driver had left the key fob in the £18,750 Renault Captur and that all he needed to do to take it was to get in and press the start button.
He took the car from the drive of a pensioner in Exeter Road, Dawlish, and stole a set of numberplates from a camper van to try to put on the car to cover his tracks.
He was caught when police spotted the car outside his girlfriend’s house in Old Town Street, Dawlish, with a small dent in its front wing which cost £600 to repair.
Francis went on to enter a friend’s house in Exeter, where he was found kneeling, unconscious and with his head on the floor after drinking a bottle of Baileys and taking the owner’s methadone.
He is a persistent offender and this latest conviction brings his total to 175 of which 82 are thefts and 53 are for stealing, breaking into, or taking cars.
Francis, aged 32, formerly of High Street, Dawlish, but now homeless in Exeter, admitted three thefts and was jailed for 20 months by Recorder Jeremy Wright at Exeter Crown Court.
He told him: ‘You have a very bad record and the only sentence I can pass is immediate imprisonment. I appreciate at the time of this offending you were homeless, penniless and unsupported.
‘The aggravating feature of this offence is that the loser was more vulnerable than is sometimes the case, although you were not aware of that.’
Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said the owner had taken delivery of the brand new car the day before it was stolen from his driveway and its temporary loss and absence while being repaired caused enormous inconvenience to him and his wife, who has mobility problems.
He said he took the number plates from a Renault camper van elsewhere in Dawlish on the same day but left his fingerprint on it.
He was bailed and was found two months later by police in a house in Albert Road, Exeter, where he had drunk the owner’s methadone and a bottle of Baileys.
He claimed he had found the house insecure with a broken window and gone inside to secure it until the owner came home.
Mr Paul Dentith, defending, said Francis was released from an earlier prison sentence without any help in finding housing or accessing benefits and was homeless and broke when he carried out the thefts.