A persistent housebreaker who ransacked a woman’s home before being caught red-handed targeting two more properties has been jailed for four and a half years.

Bradford Crown Court heard today that Stephen Haldenby’s “busy antecedent history” included twice the number of house burglaries needed to qualify him as a “third striker.”

His criminal record of 36 convictions for 191 offences stretched back to his youth and had seen him locked up over the years for periods of between 15 months and three years.

Haldenby, 46, of Edward Close, Southowram, was sentenced after admitting a house break-in and two attempts to get into homes to steal.

He pleaded guilty to smashing his way into a house in Woodlands Grove, Halifax, on March 14 and ransacking it, making off with jewellery, cash and a car key.

He opened the external fuse box to disable the alarm first, prosecutor Nicola Hoskins said.

Haldenby was out and about up to no good two days later when he committed the two attempted burglaries, in Southowram and Siddal, at around 9am.

A woman visiting her disabled father was terrified to see Haldenby trying to get in through a back door panel he was cutting at.

Wearing black and in a fur hood, he left her fearful that he would strike there again.

Within half an hour, Haldenby was confronted by a man who had returned home after walking his dog. He was prising away at the beading on a door with a screwdriver and ran off when challenged.

He was caught after being identified on CCTV and from discarded clothing that was re-covered with his DNA on it.

He denied the break-ins claiming it was a case of mistaken identity but changed his pleas to guilty on the day of his trial.

Haldenby’s solicitor advocate, Saf Salam, said he had suffered “childhood adversity” in care that had left him mentally ill.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder had led to his heroin and crack cocaine addiction.

He had been drug free for 18 months before committing the offences and had spent more than five months on remand in Leeds Prison.

Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC said Haldenby’s long criminal record included robbery, theft and multiple offences of house burglary.

“You show a casual disregard for the property of others,” he said.

This time, one address had been ransacked and two more people had been confronted by Haldenby making determined efforts to break into homes.