A weekly newspaper’s front page splash has helped put a burglar who ransacked a family home behind bars for nine months.
Ireneusz Blaszczyk, 24, was originally let off with a caution for stealing £5,000 of jewellery, £105 cash and unwrapped Christmas presents from the home of Monique Cable, 24, in November 2012.
But when the Essex Chronicle exposed Mrs Cable’s plight on its front page, the then Essex Police chief constable Jim Barker-McCardle read the story and performed a dramatic U-turn.
Blaszczyk, who had already being convicted of a burglary in his native Poland, was jailed for nine months at Chelmsford Crown Court on 24 January where the judge said it was “extraordinary” that he had not been hauled to court sooner.
Chronicle editor Paul Dent-Jones said: “The victims of this burglary were understandably stunned when the man who ransacked their home and stole their Christmas presents was let off with a slap on the wrist.
“The decision to hand him a police caution was even more baffling considering the victims had actually helped police catch the burglar by finding a piece of a latex glove that forensic officers had missed.
“Our splash was seen by the chief constable who was shocked. He launched a fresh investigation, three officers were disciplined and now the burglar has rightly been jailed.
“It’s proof of the power of publicity and we’re really proud that we were able to help bring this burglar to justice.”
Blaszczyk Blaszczyk, whose last known address is Meadgate Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, burgled the family home while Mrs Cable, her then fiancé David and one-year-old son Douglas were visiting Great Yarmouth.
In March, the Chronicle published Mrs Cable’s frustration at the caution and that it was her husband who found a piece of Blaszczk’s latex glove – something forensic officers had missed.
Using DNA from the glove, police discovered it was Blaszczyk because they already had his details following a 2010 incident, which police refused to say any more about as it did not lead to a formal charge or prosecution.
The Chronicle had already published a “wanted” appeal on February 7 as part of the force’s Operation Nemesis crackdown on burglars, in which a picture of Blaszczyk appeared in connection with the Pyms Road incident urging readers to tell police of his whereabouts.
Blaszczyk handed himself in after seeing the appeal and was handed a police caution before the fresh investigation was launched and he was eventually jailed.
“I’m thankful for the way it was dealt with and it’s all thanks to the Chronicle for printing the story. Everything from the burglary came to light. You cottoned on that it was not quite right,” Mrs Cable told the Chronicle.