A TEENAGER who left a repair bill of more than £16,000 when he stripped copper piping from a house hours after being invited in to remove two fridges has been locked up.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named due to his age, was found guilty of burglary in his absence at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court in March last year but skipped hearings throughout 2019 before a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Tom Heath, prosecuting, said the burglary, which took place at a mid-terrace home on Park Road, Barnsley, between February 21 and February 22 of 2017, resulted in the theft of copper piping which caused damage totalling £16,350.

He was given a ten-month detention training order – which is effectively a custodial term with a rehabilitation activity requirement used for 12 to 17-year-olds – as a ‘last resort’ to change his behaviour.

The offence, the court was told, was so serious that only a sentence of detention could be given because of his ‘bad record of similar offences and non-compliance’.

The property, owned by Jane Mills, was in the process of being cleared out as it was in-between tenants.

In a statement which was read out in court by Mr Heath, Jane said she was approached by two males in a van who asked if she had any scrap to take away.

“The property had two fridges inside, so I invited them in,” the statement said. “There was also a metal filing cabinet in the cellar, so they said they would go and collect that as well.

“Some time passed so I went down. They were quiet but when they saw me they sprang into life and took the cabinet back to their van. It was strange behaviour but I didn’t get the van’s make or registration.”

Jane then locked the property but received a call on February 22 at about 8.30am from a neighbour, who said water was gushing out of pipework.

Scenes of crime officers attended the property and South Yorkshire Police’s Andy Burton, who was tasked with recovering evidence, found a fingerprint which was matched to the teenager’s DNA.

He has been convicted of a multitude of other offences including possessing a five-inch knife, burglary, theft, harassment and making threats.

When arrested and questioned by police in relating to the copper theft, Mr Heath said the boy refused to answer why his fingerprint was in the house after he claimed to have ‘never been near the area before’.

He also continued to deny any wrongdoing but was found guilty in his absence.

“The rear door had been kicked in and there was substantial flood damage to the property,” Mr Heath told the court. “Radiators had been ripped out and piping had been taken. The full central heating system had to be replaced.”