A PROLIFIC burglar who created a nightmare for householders and the police is behind bars - providing a respite for an entire community.

David Harrison was responsible for a dozen raids within the space of just a few weeks in the North Road area of Darlington, a judge at Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 32-year-old targeted homes without burglar alarms, usually knocked on doors to make sure nobody was in, and then broke a window before stealing what he could.

Harrison, of Cloverdale, Darlington, appeared at court for a preliminary hearing, but admitted one burglary and asked for a further 11 to be taken into account.

His solicitor asked Judge George Moorhouse to sentence him immediately, because he wanted to wipe the slate clean and start afresh after his release from jail.

Ben Pegman, mitigating, said Harrison had been a heroin user for years, and wanted to own up to a number of crimes police would not have otherwise solved.

Harrison, who has a lengthy history of offending and drug abuse, was jailed for four years - but earned some unlikely praise from detectives in his home town.

Detective Constable Zoe Mason, from Darlington CID, said: "Without his co-operation, many of these burglary victims would never have received justice.

"Harrison was a prolific burglar who targeted properties, often whilst the occupants were out, for fear of been caught. He has been remorseful for his crimes."

The court heard how a dozen homes were raided between October last year and January this year when cash, jewellery, alcohol and electrics were stolen.

He was finally caught in January when police managed to link him to a burglary in Washbrook Drive by a footprint left at the scene and glass on his clothes.

When he was arrested and quizzed, Harrison confessed to more raids in Askrigg Street, Pembleton Road, Baliol Court, North Road, Augusta Close and Laburnum Road.