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Cupboards raided, food eaten and a toilet left unflushed: Houseboat break-ins lead to dramatic arrest

PUBLISHED: 08:43 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 30 August 2018

Hadrian Smith, whose houseboat was broken into by a burglar on August 29. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Hadrian Smith, whose houseboat was broken into by a burglar on August 29. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

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A houseboat community in a suburban beauty spot was shocked when a suspected boat burglar was led away in handcuffs by police in the early hours of Wednesday.

River Green at Thorpe St Andrew, where the burglar was taken away by police. PHOTO: Sophie SmithRiver Green at Thorpe St Andrew, where the burglar was taken away by police. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

The man, who was taken to Aylsham Police Investigation Centre for questioning, was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Police were forced to access the scene via marshland and woods to reach the secluded spot.

Houseboat owner Hadrian Smith had been in London for Notting Hill Carnival since August 25, but arrived at his home in Thorpe St Andrew to find his property in disarray.

Mr Smith’s food had been eaten, his toilet used without flushing, his possessions taken, and his photographs thrown in the River Yare, where he is moored.

Hadrian Smith, whose houseboat was broken into by a burglar on August 29. PHOTO: Sophie SmithHadrian Smith, whose houseboat was broken into by a burglar on August 29. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

The Norwich-based hairdresser and grandfather also had his passport taken.

He said he arrived home after dark and saw a man who had “something not right about him”.

He said: “I got to the boat and saw straight away one of the panels of Perspex had been smashed. I went in and saw basically someone had rearranged all my stuff, pulled my things out of the cupboards. I had actually walked past the guy.

“I realised I hadn’t checked my neighbours’ boats so I got back into my dinghy to check. I was paddling away from the boat that was being burgled but as I turned around to go back there was a dinghy tied up next to a sailboat, and I know that the owner has been away with his son quite a lot lately, and there’s no link between that dinghy and that sailboat.

Forensic vans in the picturesqe village of Thorpe St Andrew. PHOTO: Sophie SmithForensic vans in the picturesqe village of Thorpe St Andrew. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

“It took me a while to paddle up and then I listened for a while because I could hear someone but there could have been more than one person in there.

“And then I thought the police will be arriving by now, so I walked through the forest and met them and got back in the boat to make sure he didn’t get away the other side.

“They went underneath the railway bridge pretty much pulled a gap in the fence and found him on the boat.

“They were calling him out but I think he was frightened and he didn’t want to come out.

River Green at Thorpe St Andrew, where the burglar was taken away by police. PHOTO: Sophie SmithRiver Green at Thorpe St Andrew, where the burglar was taken away by police. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

“In what’s left that’s the community here, there are five boats. Everyone’s being pushed out to the peripheries, it’s happening everywhere. It means you’ve got no security, you’ve got no lighting, no amenities.

“It’s a just a sad state of affairs.”

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