A FAMILY whose home was burgled helped put a criminal behind bars after catching him red handed with their stolen gadgets.
Only hours after their house was targeted, David Bramley, 54, and his son John drove past Stephen Lee Gibson – who was carrying a bag of their missing property – by “complete chance”.
The pair recognised the bag, which contained a laptop, video camera and speakers, that the 35-year-old was carrying and confronted him in Blakelock Road, Hartlepool.
The Bramleys’ home in Hutton Avenue had been burgled only eight hours earlier at 5am when dozens of items were taken, including a car.
Gibson, of Baden Street, Hartlepool, was jailed for four months at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court after he admitted handling stolen property.
The court was told the home was burgled in the early hours as John, 23, slept upstairs.
He awoke to find the house had been ransacked and his Peugeot 206 stolen from outside of the house.
His parents, David and Joanna, 56, were away at the time, but they returned later that day.
At lunchtime John was being driven by his dad to his 23-year-old girlfriend Victoria Palmer’s house when they spotted Gibson carrying a bag they recognised as theirs and full of their property.
The pair confronted Gibson, but he denied having anything to do with the burglary.
Police were informed and Gibson was later arrested.
John, an electrician, said: “It was by complete chance that we drove past him, a total fluke.
“I was getting a lift to Victoria’s house in Rift House and we spotted him.
“If we hadn’t spotted the bag there is no way we would have got our property back.
“It was a crazy few hours but I am just pleased that justice has been done.”
All of the equipment, including the car, was later recovered.
Gibson initially denied any knowledge of the burglary and said it was not him in the street. But an identification parade was carried out where he was picked out twice.
He then admitted handling the goods but remains adamant that he knew nothing about the burglary.
He had been spotted in Blakelock Road at 1.15pm on January 9.
Lilian Atkinson, prosecuting, said: “The police believe this was a professional job and was well thought out. But he denies being involved in the burglary.
“He has however admitted that he was the man in the street that was seen with these items.”
David Smith, mitigating, said Gibson has a problem with class A drugs that causes him to offend and he has been trying to get medication and treatment to stop.
He added: “What’s happened is fairly simple and is not very sophisticated. He was at a friend’s house and he’s been asked to remove items.
“Thinking about it, in hindsight, all the hallmarks were there that these items had not been lawfully obtained and that is why he enters a guilty plea. It’s unfortunate for him that he has been approached by the person who had the goods stolen on the other side of town.”