Balaclava burglar targeted rural properties in west Kent
A balaclava-wearing burglar who targeted properties in Staplehurst and East Farleigh has been jailed.
William Rye was sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment at Maidstone Crown Court, after carrying out a string of offences between October and November 2017.
During one incident in Couchman Green Lane, Staplehurst Rye was disturbed by a victim and chased.
He struck the man on his shoulder with an iron bar, in an attempt to get away.
Further offences included a burglary - also in Staplehurst - where he raided storage containers at a property off Wilden Park Road.
The address was used for sporting and gaming events and the 42-year-old stole a number of Airsoft rifles as well as equipment including smoke grenades and body armour.
Rye was arrested on 8 November.
A police search of an address he was linked to in Sutton Close, Marden, led to the seizure of some of the stolen paint ball cartridges and smoke grenades.
A balaclava was also discovered in a kitchen drawer. It matched some of the victims’ descriptions of what he had been wearing.
Detectives were able to present further evidence of his crimes, after his DNA was recovered from zips and straps of a rucksack found abandoned at the crime scene in Couchman Green Lane.
Forensic evidence also placed Rye at the scene of a burglary in Dean Street, East Farleigh, were he had thieved cash and tools from a portakabin.
Formerly of Vicarage Lane, East Farleigh, Rye pleaded guilty at court to three charges of burglary and a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. A further three offences were held on file.
He was sentenced on Friday 2 February.
Distress and fear
Leading the investigation was Detective Constable Tracey Brightman who said: ‘Rye is a prolific burglar who targeted rural, isolated properties, stealing anything he could get his hands on. His crimes have no doubt caused long term distress and fear among his victims, so it is pleasing that at least now we have been able to bring him to justice.
‘We remain absolutely determined to deter and arrest those who commit burglary crime, but it is also so important to remember that many burglaries, whether domestic or business-related, are opportunistic and often preventable. Our message to residents and business owners alike is to remain vigilant. Always double lock doors and windows and deterrent devices like CCTV should be well-maintained, so they can capture as clear images as possible.’