Alert neighbours called police when thieves targeted a woman's home while she was working around 100 miles away.
Officers went to the house in central Hartlepool and they arrested two men before they could disappear with their loot.
They recovered a bank card, cheque book and two necklaces belonging to the woman who had been working in Manchester for a fortnight before the crime on April 9.
Prosecutor Jonathan Harley told Teesside Crown Court that the pair, Craig Foster and John Jobling, both 36, claimed that they had smelled gas in the house and that they found the
property in the yard.
Foster had not been in trouble since February 2015 and Jobling was in breach of an eight-week suspended sentence for a breach of a drug rehabilitation order.
Jobling appeared over a videolink from Durham Jail and both pleaded not guilty to burglary but guilty to theft. Their pleas were accepted by prosecutors.
Judge Sean Morris told them: "Right you two, watch your step."
Foster, of Empire Square, Hartlepool, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months while Jobling, whose address was given as Huckelhoven, Hartlepool, was given a seven-week jail
sentence including six weeks from the suspended sentence.