Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thief Put His Art and Soul into Crimewave; SCULPTURE, STATUE AND PAINTING WERE TARGETS FOR CROOK WITH EYE FOR GALLERIES

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thief Put His Art and Soul into Crimewave; SCULPTURE, STATUE AND PAINTING WERE TARGETS FOR CROOK WITH EYE FOR GALLERIES

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

HE WAS a one-man crimewave who thought he had his thieving down to a fine art.

But when David Hawthorne turned his attention to swanky galleries, he found himself in the frame.

The 36-year-old had carved a crooked career out of swiping anything from cans of deodorant to children's toys.

But in his latest spree he toured Newcastle's art galleries, helping himself to thousands of pounds of exhibits.

Hawthorne, of Deanham Gardens, Fenham, Newcastle, first hit Whitewall Galleries, Grey Street, on January 12.

He took a pounds 875 sculpture from a stand and slipped out before staff could catch him.

Two months later he returned, swiping another sculpture valued again at pounds 875.

And days after that he went to the Off The Wall gallery, on Shakespeare Street, where he took a pounds 900 painting of a horse and ran off.

Not content with his art haul, Hawthorne went back to Whitewall a third time, taking a pounds 260 bronze statue.

Then, on April 7, Hawthorne hit Newcastle University's Hatton Gallery, plucking a Worcester vase worth pounds 3,500 from a stand and fleeing.

He was caught on CCTV trying to disguise himself in a cap and sunglasses, as he lifted the vase from a display, put it in his rucksack and calmly walked off.

The jobless crook has also previously targeted the Castle Galleries, in Newcastle's Monument Mall, from where he took a pounds 1,200 bronze statue.

Now he has been convicted of the spree at Newcastle Magistrates' Court where he was given a 12-week jail term, suspended for 18 months.

It comes as police launched a campaign to crack down on all forms of acquisitive crime during the credit crunch.

Det Chief Insp Jim Hetherington said: "Police officers across Newcastle know who the persistent thieves are in their area and as part of the forcewide Let's Draw a Line Under Crime campaign we'll be ensuring we continue to target them to reduce crime across the city.

"The campaign is focused on ensuring crimes such as theft, burglary and robbery remain low during the economic downturn. …

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