Two burglars have been convicted of stealing drugs from an abandoned medical compound – after fleet-footed cops chased them down.
Jamie Pollard, 30, and Barry Watson, 36, were detained by officers in September after they were found inside the compound on the Benton industrial estate.
The premises had been contracted by the NHS to store prescriptions drugs and medical waste but it was left vacant in December 2018 when the operators lost their contract.
A security firm continued to monitor the site as it still contained large amounts of medication and was classed a biohazard.
But that did not deter the pair of thieves from targeting the site two days in a row in order to get their hands on a haul of prescription drugs.
Police were called during their second raid on September 7 and found the thieves had forced open a shutter door and were still inside the premises.
Pollard was spotted fleeing the scene but he was chased down by fleet-footed officers who worked with traffic officers to place him under arrest.
After hearing noises from within the compound, officers later located Watson still inside the building.
Both were intoxicated due to their exposure to the hazardous contents of the building and had to be de-contaminated as a precaution.
Pollard, of Cedar Walk, Whitley Bay, and Watson, of Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, were later charged with two counts of burglary and admitted the offences at Newcastle Crown Court.
They appeared at the same court on Friday (January 3) where they were handed a six-month suspended sentence due to the fact they had already spent four months in prison on remand.
Following the case, Superintendent Helena Barron praised the response of the officers who attended the scene and caught the thieves red handed.
She said: “This was a fantastic bit of teamwork between response officers and specialist officers from our Dog Section and Firearms Support Unit.
“They quickly arrived on scene and caught these thieves in the act and it was then that they reverted to a good, old-fashioned foot chase to bring them in to custody.
“There was some great communication to locate and arrest the men but they also were very mindful that this was a potentially hazardous environment.
“Many of these officers will just say they are doing their job but they regularly put themselves in harm’s way to keep the public safe and that makes me really proud.
“These men have both spent time behind bars and were off the streets for Christmas and that is thanks to the hard work and effort of those officers.”
Anyone who wants to report suspicious behaviour can do so by calling police on 101 or contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
You can also report online at the Northumbria Police website.