Police dog praised for helping catch Burgess Hill pet store burglar

A police dog has been praised for helping officers apprehend a balaclava-clad burglar who broke into a Burgess Hill pet shop.

Saturday, 20th April 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th April 2019, 12:37 pm

PD Kola was able to focus on the task of locating the burglary suspect despite the distracting temptation of toys, treats and other treasures in the pet store.

Police were alerted to a break-in at Pets at Home in Jane Murray Way, Burgess Hill, after an intruder alarm was activated around 11.16pm on Sunday (14 April), police said.

On arrival several minutes later, PC Will Hewson discovered part of the glass front door was shattered.

PD Kola
PD Kola

The officer entered the premises, assisted by his canine counterpart PD Kola, and as they approached the rear of the store they spotted a man wearing all black clothing, including gloves and a balaclava, police said.

The suspect started to run, so PC Hewson shouted to make him aware of his presence and the deployment of PD Kola.

Shortly afterwards, the man emerged from the aisle where the rabbit enclosures are and gave himself up, said police.

He was identified as Phillip Johnstone, 47, unemployed, of no fixed address, confirmed police.

Johnstone was arrested and remanded in custody to appear before Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (16 April), where he pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal, confirmed police.

He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, requiring him to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, and made to pay £85 costs and a £85 victim surcharge, said police.

PC Hewson said: “Like all Sussex Police general purpose dogs, PD Kola is fully qualified to carry out a number of tasks, including tracking and searching for criminals.

“Conditions such as weather, the environment and distractions all come with their challenges, however these highly intelligent dogs are trained to excel in such circumstances.

“Thankfully on this occasion the defendant complied with my commands and gave himself up, avoiding the necessity of a close-up encounter with Kola.”