A bicycle thief was caught by an alert bystander who raised the alarm and took photographs.
The bike was outside a chip shop in Seaton Carew when a 17-year-old jumped on it and rode away, Teesside Crown Court heard.
“A helpful bystander saw what happened,” said Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting. “He shouted, causing the thief to abandon the bicycle and flee on foot.
“The bystander also took photographs of the thief, which were passed on to the police.
“Officers were able to identify the thief and arrest him.”
The 17-year-old, of no fixed abode in Hartlepool, admitted theft on June 25.
He also admitted being in breach of a youth rehabilitation order imposed for earlier offences of robbery, burglary and theft.
Laurie Scott, defending, said in mitigation: “His mother is no longer willing to have him at home after he got involved in a fight with a younger sibling.
“This has made it difficult for him to abide by a curfew because he has been staying on sofas of various friends.
“He does accept he needs to attend the probation appointments in relation to the existing order.
“But as a starting point he needs to get his accommodation sorted.”
Judge Peter Armstrong adjourned passing sentence.
The judge told the youth: “I want to see what progress can be made with you in that time.
“You need to start complying with the order, and taking advantage of the help being made available to you.
“If you don’t, the court will have no alternative but to lock you up.”
The youth was bailed to return to the court to be sentenced on September 23.