A SNEAKY thief who preyed on sleeping commuters on trains has been jailed.

Stephen Sikpi, 23, singled out dozing passengers on late night services between London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria.

He stole expensive belongings including iPhones and iPads and even an entire rucksack.

He was eventually caught after a tracker was identified on a stolen iPhone which led police to his girlfriend’s home.

Officers searched the address in Chase Road, Southend, where they found some of the stolen goods.

Unemployed Sikpi, of Oban Street, in Tower Hamlets, London, was then arrested at Southend Victoria railway station after British Transport Police recognised him from CCTV stills.

He appeared before Southend Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to four counts of theft which happened between July and November.

He also asked for a further theft to be taken into consideration - of a Sunday Mirror reporter’s iPad, phone and wallet.

This led him to lose the numbers of contacts which were vital to his work, as well as family photographs which were on his phone.

Suzanne Stringer read out a victim impact statement from a woman who had been targeted.

She said: “It’s scary what else could have happened to me, and it’s made me anxious being on public transport.”

Elizabeth Connolly, mitigating, said the first theft had been entirely opportunistic and he had no previous offences.

He had only received a caution in the past.

She said: “Because he got away with it he then with it he then disengaged with reality, with the reality of what he was doing was wrong, the reality of the affect on the victims.”

She said that he had difficulty “engaging” with his probation officer and so had probably not given the best impression in his pre-sentence report.

But she added: “Speaking to Mr Sikpi, he does understand, he has had a dose of reality.” He was jailed for eight months. No order was made for costs or compensation due to his circumstances.