A MAN was arrested after he was caught on CCTV wheeling away a stolen fridge just moments after a house was burgled.
Mark Campbell, 37, and another man were captured on camera with the large fridge freezer on a trolley shortly after a house in Raby Road, Hartlepool, had been burgled.
When challenged by an alert neighbour, he claimed he had been helping a landlord to clear a house.
Campbell, who claimed he previously drunk up to eight litres of alcohol a day, was spared a custodial sentence by a judge after being told he had served the equivalent of eight months prison through a curfew.
Paul Newcombe, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The occupant of the property in Raby Road was burgled while she was away visiting family in London.
“Among the items stolen was a large fridge freezer. CCTV of a nearby alleyway showed the defendant and another pushing the fridge on a trolley away from the property.
“A watchful neighbour confronted the defendant who replied he was helping to clear a house on behalf of the landlord and the occupants.
“He later realised when he saw there had been some damage to the outside of the house there was a burglary and he telephoned the police.”
The fridge was found in Campbell’s front room three days later along with a carpet cleaner that had recently been stolen from a car.
Campbell, of Dent Street, Hartlepool, told police he would spend his days “scrapping” for cash.
He admitted two counts of handling stolen goods and the theft of a bicycle from outside a shop in Burbank Street on June 4.
David Lamb, mitigating, said: “He does seek to get his act together with regard to his alcohol and drug misuse.”
Campbell was given a two-year community order with probation and a four month tagged curfew.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said: “Even if you didn’t go into that house you were there and assisted those who did go into the house.
“Somebody came back and found their house had been defiled by those who went in.
“It is often said there would be no burglars without handlers or those who are prepared to help.
“There are signs you are turning a corner. I’m not going to interfere with that.”