Published: 06:00, 14 February 2020
A thief who used hire cars to travel between burglaries had a crafty way of ensuring he wouldn't be caught.
Vitor Ndoj would leave a rear door ajar for quick escape and either prop a chair against the front door, or lock it from within as he broke into homes in Dartford and Beckenham as well as other places.
A number of victims only realised they had been burgled when they discovered they couldn't get into their properties.
Ndoj came to the UK illegally in December 2014 - and began committing burglaries the following year and then carried out a three-year campaign of break-ins.
He will now be kicked out of the country - despite having a British girlfriend and a child.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the bricklayer hired an Alfa Romeo, a Mercedes, and a Skoda to drive from burglary to burglary.
Prosecutor Ian Foinette told how he and other members of his gang ransacked houses and stolen sentimental items, including cufflinks, rare coins, and a jubilee commemorative coin.
One of his victims later told police she was "utterly devastated" at finding her home ransacked.
Ndoj claimed he was just the "get-away driver and look out" - but the court heard how on two of six raids, police discovered his DNA left inside the properties.
The thief is already serving a two-and-a-half years for similar burglaries and was due to be released in April.
But now he faces an extra 13 months inside which is to be added to his current sentence.
Judge Julian Smith told him: "In 2015 you decided to become a burglar of houses in a substantial portion of south-east England.
"Your burglaries had a profound effect on your victims."
Mr Foinette told how £4,000 worth of goods were taken from houses in Brabourne Road, Beckenham where a family had only moved in six weeks earlier.
He said the householder returned and discovered she was unable to get in through the front door - and summoned a locksmith.
It was only later the victim realised she had been the victim of a break-in and her rear door had been left ajar.
The thieves ransacked the property taking cufflinks and rare coins leaving the victims devastated.
On the same day Ndoj burgled a house in Croydon taking £700 worth of items before moving onto a house in Sutton in November 2017 and stealing £1,200 in cash.
Mr Foinette said the gang raided houses in Sutton and Slough before burgling houses in Castillon Road, Dartford, on December 4, 2018, swiping £1,500 in jewels and then a house in Watling Streetm Dartford where his vehicle was caught on CCTV.
More by this authorPaul Hooper