Distraction thief Grzegor Pienczke handed jail term at Leicester Crown Court
A distraction burglar who kept a householder talking in the garden while an accomplice looted the property has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Grzegor Pienczke (31) was acting as a look-out when the homeowner and his female lodger arrived.
The lodger had her handbag stolen the night before with her keys and details of the address.
Pienczke pretended he had been asked to deliver a message to the occupants about the missing handbag, and kept them talking outside the property in St Alban's Road, off London Road, Leicester, on May 26.
He wrote a fictitious phone number on a piece of paper, saying they should call to arrange the return of the bag.
His fingerprints were later detected on the paper.
Alan Murphy, prosecuting, said: "During the conversation he produced a bottle of fizzy drink and made a show of opening it."
It was all part of the ploy to distract the householder and lodger to buy more time, while the accomplice, who used the key to enter the premises, was stealing property.
In all, £1,600 worth of goods were stolen, including electrical and musical equipment, including a cherished Fender guitar.
Pienczke, of no fixed address, denied the burglary, but was found guilty by a jury after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.
Sentencing, Judge Simon Hammond said: "This was a classic distraction burglary.
"It must have been very upsetting for the house owner."
The police, having identified him by fingerprints left on the note with the bogus phone number on it, obtained a covert picture of the defendant.
The householder then identified Pienczke as the man who had distracted him and his lodger.
When arrested, Pienczke, a Polish national, gave a false name and date of birth.
The court heard he has previous convictions for two house burglaries and an attempted break-in, which meant he qualified for a "three strikes" minimum three year sentence.
After the verdict, Edward Barr, defence counsel, said: "He came to this country with the best of intentions.
"He was homeless at the time.
"Once released he can perhaps turn a corner and behave in the way he wanted to."