A PROLIFIC thief who raided homes across the Thames Valley has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

James McDonagh, of no fixed abode, admitted to seven counts of dwelling burglary at Reading Crown Court.

He was already in prison for carrying out burglaries in Surrey and refused to assist police with their investigation.

However, McDonagh was caught on CCTV and in some cases left forensic evidence at the scene of his crimes.

The charges are in relation to burglaries in Kintbury, Twyford, Tilehurst and Pangbourne, while there were also offences committed in Cholsey, Oxfordshire, and Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, in February and March this year.

During the burglary in Pangbourne, the 36-year-old assaulted the occupant, pushing her to the floor as he fled the scene.

McDonagh stole cash, jewellery and watches during the burglaries.

Detective constable Jay Ellams said: “Burglary has a significant impact on communities and unfortunately it only takes a small number of criminals to carry out spates of burglaries.

“McDonagh was initially identified by forensics, having left his DNA at the scene of four burglaries across the Thames Valley.

"He was also captured on CCTV at train stations near to the burglaries.

“McDonagh was very uncooperative during our investigation; he was already in prison for a number of burglaries he carried out in Surrey, but when I attended prison to question him about the offences in the Thames Valley he refused to see me.

“I am glad that a prolific burglar has now been sentenced for his crimes, following a thorough investigation by officers on the Investigation Hub.”