A BURGLAR who helped steal almost £10,000 worth of drink and tobacco in raids on shops and petrol stations was trapped after leaving his footprints at the scene of his crimes.

Miguel Costa was on licence from a young offenders’ institution when he and two other masked accomplices – one a woman – carried out two middle of the night break-ins.

Prosecutor Simon Edwards told Winchester Crown Court that the raid on a Co-op store in Highcliffe happened around 3am one night last month when a drain cover was hurled through the door. Three people rushed inside but only managed to grab a few items before a security device activated and the shop was filled with smoke.

Minutes later the trio struck at Hordle Service Station in Lymington. Police received a 999 call about three people driving away in a dark car. They had £4,000 worth of tobacco and cigarettes with them.

A stolen Ford Fiesta was found alight in a car park a few miles away. Nearby was another vehicle containing wine and alcohol.

Costa and the woman were arrested after a police dog picked up their scent.

Footprints found at the scene of one of the break-ins was found to match what Costa was wearing.

Costa, of Glengarry, New Milton, admitted two counts of burglary and one of aggravated taking and driving away of a car without consent. He asked for seven other offences to be considered, which included a £5,000 raid on a second garage.

The court heard he had 17 previous court appearances for 40 offences, Judge Peter Henry jailed him for two years and banned him from driving for 12 months.

A second man was jailed for six months by magistrates for his role and the woman was cautioned.