TWO burglars who smashed their way into an occupied house to steal a safe they believed was stuffed with cash were thwarted when it turned out to be empty.

Jared Whitehouse and his accomplice, David Jowett, broke a window with a shovel to raid the property shortly after midnight, Bradford Crown Court heard.

It was Whitehouse’s second night-time visit to burgle the home in two days and the householder had left the empty safe on the stairs as a decoy in case he returned, prosecutor Philip Adams said.

Whitehouse, 23, of Blackburns Buildings, Brighouse, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal on April 6 last year and burgling the safe from the property on April 8.

He is currently serving a 21 month jail sentence for threatening to kill a taxi driver and possession of a knife and an imitation firearm and was imprisoned for 27 months, to run concurrently.

Jowett, 37, a third strike housebreaker, of Westcombe Court, Wyke, Bradford, was jailed for 32 months after admitting one charge of burglary.

Mr Adams told the court on Friday that Whitehouse knew the burglary victim but the man had distanced himself from him.

The householder was at home on April 6 when Whitehouse threw a stone through the window to break in at night. The man locked himself in his bedroom as Whitehouse tried the doors before leaving empty-handed.

Two days later, he was back, along with Jowett.

Mr Adams said the householder was at home with friends when the defendants picked up a garden shovel and smashed a window to get in.

The victim again locked himself in his room as the intruders climbed through the broken window and made off with the safe.

Whitehouse was recognised by the householder who saw him from an upstairs window walking away with the safe.

Jowett cut himself on the broken glass and was traced after leaving blood at the scene.

He told the police he believed there was a safe full of cash in the house in Halifax.

Whitehouse had previous convictions for criminal damage, rail fare dodging, theft of vehicles and fraud.

Jowett’s first house burglary was committed in 2001, followed by similar offences in 2004 and 2005.

Whitehouse’s barrister, Alasdair Campbell, said his client had waited almost a year to be sentenced for the burglary offences. All he stole was a safe with nothing in it.

Mr Campbell said Whitehouse was a changed person since he was jailed in January, attending many courses in prison.

John Bottomley, for Jowett, said his last house burglary conviction was 14 years ago and his offending had since become low level shop theft.

The father of two children, he had relapsed into drug use at the time of the burglary, following the breakdown of his relationship.

Jowett was arrested in June last year but it had taken six months to charge him and almost a year to sentence him, Mr Bottomley said.

Judge David Hatton QC said the householder and his friends would have felt under threat when the men smashed their way into the house at night.