A burglar who was identified after he left his balaclava inside the home that he ransacked has been jailed.

Paul Anthony Nielson, 54, of no fixed abode, appeared at Kingston Crown Court on August 13, where he was sentenced to five years and six months' imprisonment and 50 days electronically monitored curfew. He had been found guilty of burglary following a trial.

It comes after police were called to reports of a burglary in Mitcham after a resident returned home to discover that their front door had been barricaded by a cupboard preventing them from getting into their home at around 10 pm on March 21, 2019.

The burglar had left the property with a substantial number of items of both financial and sentimental value including jewellery, IT equipment and cash.

Wimbledon Times: Image: Met Police Image: Met Police

Amongst the mess made by the burglar, the victim discovered an unfamiliar item of clothing in one of the rooms and notified police.

The item, a piece of knotted black cloth with holes to resemble a balaclava, was collected by a scene of crimes officer and was submitted for forensic testing.

Neilson was identified as the suspect when his DNA was found on the item. He pleaded not guilty to burglary.

He didn't deny the balaclava was his, but he claimed he had lost it or that it had been stolen, suggesting someone else had then used it to commit the burglary. He said this explained another DNA profile also found on it.

Detective Constable David Picken, who investigated the case, said: “To break into someone’s home and steal their belongings is a despicable crime.

"The effects of knowing that an intruder has been in your private space, where you should feel safe, can be long lasting and incredibly damaging.

“Thankfully, Neilson’s own carelessness has resulted in him being apprehended and imprisoned where he cannot invade the private space and possessions of law abiding members of the public for some time to come.”

Anyone who is offered stolen goods for sale, or who has information about crime, should call police on 101 or tweet @MetCC.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymousl on 0800 555 111.