A burglar who raided 21 homes, some while on bail for other break ins, has been jailed for five years.

Gerald Hicks ransacked people’s homes as he plundered thousands of pounds worth of possessions.

On one occasion the 46-year-old was caught behind the wheel of a car taken from one of the driveways of one of the properties he targeted. And his 33-year-old girlfriend Nadia Knott, who also uses the name Habib, was roped into his enterprise selling some of the loot at Cash Converters.

After hearing Hicks, who has burgled numerous homes in the past, had spent most of his adult life behind bars, a judge at Swindon Crown Court returned him to jail.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told the court Hicks used a credit card which had been stolen in a burglary to make withdrawals of £2,200 last April

The following month he broke into a house on Feather Wood, Westlea, taking a car which was later found with stolen plates on it, as well as £6,000 of household effects.

But the experienced burglar left blood on a piece of paper inside the property and was identified by his DNA.

A few days later he raided another house on Furze Close, Sparcells, stealing about £1,000 worth of electrical items and jewellery but when he was later arrested he was found with the householder’s Kindle in his pocket.

Then on Friday September 29, he raided a house on Ravenglass Road, Westlea, stealing car keys and £600 in cash, but was caught on CCTV in the house.

Hicks appeared before a judge in late October to deny all the matters and despite his past was released on bail to abide by a night-time curfew. But within two weeks he broke into a house on Burford Avenue, Old Walcot, stealing £4,700 of items including four watches and a laptop.

During that raid he dropped his asthma inhaler and was easily tracked down again by his DNA.

And three weeks later he broke into another property on Hamble Road, Haydon Wick, again taking a computer and watches.

Hicks, of Deerhurst Way, Toothill, pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary, one of theft, handling stolen goods and taking a vehicle without consent. He also asked for a further 16 domestic burglaries to be taken into consideration.

The court heard he was jailed for 40 months in 2008 after admitting 16 burglaries, got two years for two more in 2003 and committed 27 further house raids in the 90s.

Knott, of the same address, pleaded guilty to a single count of handling stolen jewellery and electrical goods between April 19 and April 28 last year.

Tony Bignall, for Hicks, said his client’s offending was down to a drug problem which had seen him spend 20 years behind bars.

After jailing Hicks, Recorder Ed Burgess QC put Knott on a one year community order with a two month curfew and 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement.