The trio, dubbed “prolific offenders” by Durham Police, were spotted making off on a farmer’s quad bike from Daddry Shields, in the Durham Dales, by a resident who called in the suspicious activity and followed the vehicle while officers blue-lighted to the scene.
Jackson Lee Bainbridge, 20, Connor Dodds and Liam Robson, both 21, sped through Westgate and Stanhope before being seen abandoning the quad bike and jumping over a wall.
They were arrested after trying to hide in some bushes and under a van during the 4am incident.
All three have since appeared at court where Dodds, of Argent Street, Easington Colliery, and Bainbridge admitted burglary.
Robson, of no fixed address, initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty.
All three were sentenced to 12 weeks in prison with Bainbridge, of Kirkstone Avenue, Peterlee, receiving an additional six weeks for breaching a previous suspended sentence.
The trio were also ordered to pay court costs.
The quad bike has since been returned to the farmer.
Detective Sergeant Sarah Hindmarsh, of the South Volume Crime Team, said: “Thanks to the speedy report from the member of the public and the use of the rural WhatsApp group, officers were able to make sure these prolific offenders were caught and taken off the streets.
“These close links with our rural communities are vital and we will continue to work with residents to keep them safe.”