A professional burglar hatched a Mission Impossible style scheme to steal a pub’s takings by hooking them out of a safe with a piece of bent wire.
Brian Powell used an inside contact at the Beefeater Inn in Kingsteignton to obtain an electronic master key which he used to break into the building in the middle of the night.
The pub and steak house uses a system of tubes to deposit cash from the bar into the safe and Powell realised that he could reach down one of these and fish out bags of money.
He escaped with £1,666.50 but was caught out by two basic mistakes. He did not realise the CCTV system was still on and he left a tiny sample of his DNA on the tube.
Powell, aged 42, admitted burglary and was jailed for six months by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court.
At the time of the offence he was still on prison licence after being freed early half way through a 45 month sentence for a domestic burglary.
His permanent home address is North Avenue, Lyme Regis, but at the time of this raid in November he was living in Newton Abbot with his wife Helen, who worked as a night receptionist at the Premier Inn, which is attached to the Beefeater in Kingsteignton.
The judge told him:”You have a massive list of previous convictions. It is not unfair to categorise you as a career burglar.
“You were on licence at the time of this offence when, driven by debt, you decided to steal from the safe. You obtained access to the keys and then access to the safe.
“You took £1,666 using a wire hook to get the money out of the chute, which you used towards your debts.”
Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Powell was able to obtain both physical keys and an electronic master key from an accomplice who worked for the business.
He said:”The Beefeater Inn used a chute to drop money into a safe and he used a piece of wire to put down the chute and having gained access to the secure area, he fished out four money bags from the safe.
“He left a partial DNA match and it appears this was quite a carefully planned burglary because of the way he broke in and obtained the electronic grand master key card.
“The CCTV at the Beefeater identified a man entering just after 1 am and going into an office. He was there for 70 minutes during which he fished the money out of the safe.
“When arrested he said the person on the CCTV must be someone else but he admitted the offence once the DNA match was obtained.”
Miss Mary McCarthy, defending, said Powell and his wife had debts of £2,500 to £3,000 and he thought up the plan to take money from the restaurant to pay it off.
She said:”They both felt pressurised by the situation. He accepts he has a bad record but this was not a burglary of a dwelling.”