A woman found a burglar in the house after hearing a noise downstairs – and the intruder was caught after a chase.
Leeds Crown Court heard the victim was house-sitting while the occupiers of the house in Lower Lane, Gomersal, were on holiday.
About 7am on June 22 when she was upstairs she heard a noise and thought it might be her partner but when she called out and got no response she went to investigate, prosecutor Ben Campbell told the court.
Downstairs she found Lee Matthews walking the family’s dog into the kitchen area. She challenged him and he falsely claimed to be called Dave. He walked out of the front door to the end of the garden and then began to run fleeing the scene.
He was chased and others joined in until he was caught and detained until police arrived. He was found to have a rucksack on him with a set of lock picks, a lock punch, gloves, a head torch and screwdriver inside.
He told police: “I don’t know what to say, I haven’t taken anything.” He claimed he had gone for a walk from his home and as he got near the house heard a dog yelping, saw the front door ajar and saw the dog wanted to go into the kitchen.”
He said he had the lock pick and other items because it was his hobby to pick locks!
Mr Campbell said inquiries revealed rather than walking to the area Matthews had driven his car to a nearby pub car park shortly before going to the house. “So he was clearly not just out for a walk from his property.”
The court heard Matthews had previous convictions for burglary but the last one was in 2006.
Simon Perkins, representing him, said he had psychiatric problems and the author of a pre-sentence report suggested his motivation for what happened was not financial but in some way attention seeking behaviour.
Matthews, 42, of Prospect View, Hartshead, Liversedge, admitted burglary with intent to steal and was jailed for two years.
Recorder Richard Woolfall said it was not clear whether he had used the tools to enter the house or whether the door had been unlocked but said: “I take the view this was a planned decision. You went with the intention of committing dishonesty such as this.”