A FORMER foreign exchange broker who "became a crimewave" has been jailed after carrying out almost 60 burglaries at homes in the New Forest.

David Adams, an ex boarding school student with a degree in music production, single-handedly increased the burglary rate threefold in some rural areas.

Adams, of Pound Lane in Poole, took his bicycle aboard trains to visit neighbourhoods and case properties. He then recorded details from his surveillance, including the position of blinds and curtains, in a notebook which he carried with him.

In total, the 33-year-old is responsible for well over 100 burglaries, a judge sitting at Bournemouth Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said Adams is a "prolific burglar". The defendant admitted 14 charges of burglary and attempted burglary, and asked for a further 45 to be taken into account, the prosecutor said.

"The area affected by this spate of offending in effect had what amounted to a threefold increase in the number of burglaries committed when compared to previous years," he said.

The majority of Adams' victims were elderly. All were away from their homes during the offences.

Properties in Sway, Hordle, New Milton, West Wellow and Nursling were among those targeted by the defendant, who usually stole cash and jewellery.

Jonathan Reuben, mitigating, said Adams' modus operandi gives an "insight into his character".

"He does not hold a driving licence, and travelled by train with his bike to the areas of these burglaries," Mr Reuben said.

"The defendant targeted houses that appeared empty. He entered, where possible, to the rear of the houses, and was careful to do as little damage as he could."

Adams turned to gambling after his recruitment business began to fail. When he lost money, he started committing burglaries once again, the court heard.

"Mr Adams is a model inmate, and helps fellow inmates to read and write," Mr Reuben said.

"He played Bishop Myriel in a performance of Les Misérables featuring professionals and inmates.

"The theatre company involved, Pimlico Opera, see great promise in him and have indicated they will offer him work when he is released."

Adams' father, who served with the RAF, was killed in a helicopter crash during the Falklands War.

"Mr Adams is a proud man not always able to admit failure or ask for help, despite coming from a supportive family," the barrister said.

"He has the dubious honour in his family of being the first to go to prison."

A letter written by Adams was read aloud to the court. In it, he said he "tries too hard to be likeable".

"I am so sorry for my actions and I hope one day I can put things right and be forgiven," he said.

Judge Brian Forster QC told Adams: "This case is a tragedy for you.

"You are clearly a person of ability. You went to university. You have had opportunities in your life that many people would love to have."

However, a psychiatric report highlighted the defendant's "gross persistence of irresponsible behaviour and disregard for social norms," Judge Forster said.

Adams was sentenced to five years and four months in prison. Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings will also take place in an effort to recompense victims.

Speaking after the sentence, Detective Sergeant Will Whale of Hampshire police said: “The sheer volume of burglaries caused concern in a number of communities and we’re delighted to have brought the man responsible to justice.

“This was the result of excellent work from Operation Hawk officers in a long and complex investigation.”