A “career” criminal with more than 150 previous convictions who broke into an unoccupied new-build house in a Suffolk village and stole power tools worth more than £5,000 has been jailed for 16 months.

After hearing that 40-year-old Marc Nicholls had a young child Judge Emma Peters told him: “You have a baby and want to be at liberty. The best way of being at liberty is to stop committing burglaries.”

She described Nicholls as a “career burglar” and said the victim of the burglary had left his tools in the locked house overnight and could reasonably have expected to find them there when he arrived to continue work on the property the next day

Simon Connolly, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said Nicholls, of Hawke Road, Ipswich, broke into the house in Brent Eleigh Road, Monks Eleigh, overnight between July 5 and 6 this year and stole power tools including drills, sanders and jigsaws.

The builder who owned the power tools arrived at the property to find that a bathroom window and French doors in the kitchen had been smashed.

In addition to the stolen power tools, keys to the property were also stolen resulting in the locks having to be changed.

Blood found on a broken window provided a DNA link with Nicholls who the court heard has a significant criminal record which included burglaries of dwelling and non-dwelling properties.

In a statement, the builder said that the damage to the broken window and doors at the property had been costly to repair and the theft of the tools had a financial impact on him.

Peter Spary, for Nicholls, who admitted burglary, said his client claimed he had decided to commit the burglary while walking past the property at about 5am.

He said Nicholls had been experiencing financial difficulties and had planned to sell the stolen power tools.

He said that Nicholls had a young child and had mental health issues.

The court heard that in 2019 Nicholls was jailed for 54 months for stealing more than £3,000 during a “campaign” of break-ins at shops and charities in Southwold and Woodbridge.

At his sentencing hearing on that occasion, the court heard that the burglaries caused so much concern at the time that a public meeting was held with police in Woodbridge to address the problem.