TWO serial offenders brought misery and despair to householders in two counties.

Dean Lee and Kevin Lucas targeted secluded, high value houses in Hampshire and Sussex where between them they stole almost £200,000 in cash and property.

They took cars and irreplaceable jewellery which police fear has been pawned or smelted down.

They left homes ransacked after smashing their way in.

In one house they even removed an oven grill in case it contained a hidden safe.

One victim told the police she felt her family’s life had been turned upside down and no longer felt safe in their home which they considered putting on the market. “I feel dirty and violated,” she said in an impact statement.

Another told detectives of the trauma she had suffered when she discovered she had been burgled. “I was visibly shaking and collapsed with stress.”

A judge sympathised with the victims as he jailed Lee for four years and Lucas for 18 months.

Recorder Ben Compton QC told the pair, who both had 22 previous convictions: “People who commit burglaries leave their victims absolutely traumatised.

You should reflect on that and consider what it would be like if it had happened to your families.”

Lee, 23, of Salisbury Road, Totton, admitted eight burglaries and asked for another ten to be considered. Lucas, 31, of no fixed abode, admitted four burglaries.

Prosecutor Siobhan Linsley told Southampton Crown Court how the pair had struck between July 1 and September 9, breaking into homes in Totton, Chandler’s Ford, Bransgore, Romsey and Stockbridge in Hampshire as well as two properties in Sussex.

Ms Linsley said the burglaries included the taking of a £22,000 BMW and a £48,000 Audi from houses in Chandler’s Ford and Romsey respectively. Both vehicles were recovered.

In two other raids, jewellery worth in excess of £12,000 was stolen from a house in Sussex and other jewellery valued at between £20,000 and £25,000 was looted from a house in Bransgore. None had been recovered.

In August, with Lucas at the wheel of a car, they were arrested in Sussex with stolen property and in the company of another man on a day’s release from Ford Open Prison.

They were re-arrested the following month when stolen property was found in Lee’s caravan.

Mitigating for Lee, Alistair Wright spoke of his drug habit, how he had lived rough and how he recognised the impact of his offending on his victims.

“It is quite incalculable,”

said the judge, remarking that Lee was more street wise than he conceded.

The barrister then added that it might be of some consolation that he had come clean about ten other burglaries which might never have come before a court.

For Lucas, Richard Martin said his role was merely that of a driver. “He has struggled with drugs over the years and that was his motivation to get involved.”

After the hearing, PSI Laura Ruffell, the officer in the case, said she was disappointed with the lengths of the sentences on the pair.

“The amount of property they stole and the damage they caused was substantial.

The victims had worked to have a nice house and they were ransacked. They stole jewellery, including some that had been inherited and were obviously priceless. None of it has been recovered,” she added, fearing it had either been pawned or smelted down.