A BURGLAR has been jailed for stealing £20,000 of jewellery and blackmailing his victim into paying for its return.

Jay Waite, 25, of Woodshire Road, Dagenham, admitted two counts of burglary, for which he will serve 36 months concurrent for each charge, and one count of blackmail at the same court on May 30 at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard how Waite had broken into a property in Long Ridings Avenue, Hutton, on April 23 this year and stolen between £11,000 and £20,000 worth of jewellery and £150 in foreign currency from an acquaintance.

Following the burglary, Waite stated that a friend of his had purchased some of the stolen pieces of jewellery, which had particular sentimental value to the victim.

Waite asked the victim to transfer £500 to his friend in exchange for the return of one of the pieces, an Omega watch.

She reported it to police and transferred some money to Waite’s friend.

Following a text threatening the safety of her family, police arrested Waite on April 30. After a search of mother’s living room, the watch was recovered from a DVD case.

It transpired that Waite had been acting as his friend from a separate phone during exchanges with the victim.

A 20-year-old man from Dagenham, arrested on the same day on suspicion of blackmail, was released without charge.

Investigating officer, PC Jonathan Stephenson of Brentwood CID, said: “This was a particularly upsetting case, and has left the victim feeling unsafe in her own home.

“Not only did Waite violate her privacy by stealing her things, but he then used sentimental items as a bargaining tool, before selling some irreplaceable jewellery at a pawnbrokers for his own monetary gain. Thankfully, we were able to get this back.

“His behaviour was completely unacceptable and I’m glad he had the decency to plead guilty, sparing the victim the further stress of a trial. I hope his time behind bars gives him time to reflect on his behaviour, and that this sentence can give the victim some peace and a sense of safety again.”