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Burglar targeted Coton Orchard Garden Centre and helped himself to slice of cake

A burglar targeted a garden centre twice and on one occasion helped himself to a slice of cake, a court heard.

Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529064)
Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529064)

Nicholas McRae, of no fixed address, first struck at Coton Orchard Garden Centre in the early hours of Tuesday, April 23.

The 63-year-old smashed a ground floor window using a sledgehammer, which was later recovered at the scene.

He climbed through the window but cut himself in the process and left blood at the scene, Cambridge Crown Court heard.

Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529068)
Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529068)

McRae approached the post office area and tried using the sledgehammer to smash the glass, but was unsuccessful.

Instead, he walked towards the café area and forced open the till. There was no money inside so McRae took a tip jar next to the till, together with £2.50 in change, a bottle of Fanta and a slice of cake.

He then left the scene via the same broken window. He was wearing a high visibility jacket but left this behind at the scene.

McRae also left blood on the sledgehammer and in other areas around the shop floor, the court heard.

Five days later, in the early hours of Sunday April 28, police were called to reports of a burglary in progress at the same garden centre.

This time McRae used a metal crowbar, which he later left behind at the scene, to open the automatic doors.

Once inside, McRae stole two charity boxes from behind the till and a further two charity boxes from an office upstairs. He left the scene via the same automatic doors.

Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529062)
Cake burglar Nicholas McRae (11529062)

Police arrived on scene and found McRae hiding in the woods adjacent to Madingley Road – a short distance from the garden centre.

He was arrested on suspicion of burglary and had a black rucksack with him containing the four stolen charity boxes.

In police interview, McRae immediately admitted both burglaries and told officers he was sleeping rough at the time of the offences.

At a previous hearing McRae pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court to Thursday (May 30) where he was handed 32 months in prison.

PC Dan Harper, who investigated, said: “McRae brazenly targeted the garden centre on two occasions, even helping himself to a slice of cake, bottle of fizzy drink and charity boxes.

“Unfortunately for him he made a series of mistakes which meant we were able to link him forensically to the crimes.

“Tackling burglary is one of our force priorities as the impact can be significant and long-lasting for victims.”

Anyone with information about burglary should call police on 101 or report online at Cambridgeshire Constabulary's website.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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