A BURGLAR who walked free after targeting 78 homes across Basildon went on to burgle dozens of other homes just hours later.

William Coe, 25, was handed a community order on February 19 after admitting breaking in to about 78 homes between 2010 and 2013.

However, just hours after being handed the punishment, he mounted another crime spree, which sawhim burgle a further 33 homes, in four weeks.

Coe, of Malyons, Basildon, was caught by detectives at Basildon CID.

Yesterday, at Basildon Crown Court, he was sentenced to six years in jail.

When asked by Judge Jonathan Black, why he carried out the crimes, his lawyer, Ian Cliff said it was “baffling” because his client had recently kicked a cocaine habit.

Mr Cliff told the court Coe claimed he chose burglary because “he was too much of a coward to go shoplifting”.

The court heard Coe admitted breaking in to a house in Malyons Mews, Basildon, in the early hours of March 3 by jemmying the front door.

He stole the victim’s handbag and jewellery before dumping it in the street outside.

The victim only realised she had been broken into when a neighbour knocked at her front door, after finding the bag in the street.

Coe admitted four other burglaries at Curlew Crescent, Durrington Close, Winfields and Briscoe Road on March 3 and 4.

He also admitted taking three cars from the homes he broke in to.

In addition to the eight charges against him he asked for 25 other burglary offences to be taken in to consideration by the court.

Judge Black said: “While youwere remanded prior to your sentencing in February you wrote to me expressing a wish to show you could change your life.

“You said you were no longer abusing drugs and you had certificates from prison to show you had produced negative samples.

“You said you did not want to spend the rest of your life in prison. You asked me to give you one last chance to change your life and live a crime-free existence.

“On that basis, just before Christmas I gave you bail and that was your opportunity to live in the community.

“When I sentenced you in February there was no suggestion you had carried out any further offences. There is no explanation for your behaviour.”