A burglar who went on a one-man crime spree across Gainsborough was detained thanks to the work of a 16-year-old girl, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
James Jones committed a string of offences over a six-hour period, but the actions of the girl led to him being detained in a house on Dunstall Walk in the town.
The teenager called police after spotting Jones leaving the scene of an earlier burglary. She then followed Jones to the address in Dunstall Walk in the town and kept watch on him until officers arrived and she was able to identify him.
Judge Sean Morris jailed Jones for three and a half years and banned him from driving for two years. After passing sentence the judge praised the actions of the teenage girl.
He said: “Were it not for her he would undoubtedly have got away. I order that the witness be commended. I award her £300 from the public purse to mark the assistance she gave.”
Tony Stanford, prosecuting, said Jones stole washing powder and razor blades from a shop in Gainsborough before entering a house in The Walk, Gainsborough, but was confronted by the occupier who snatched a mobile phone, van keys and cigarettes from him as he attempted to make off with the items. Jones then burgled a house in Sturgate Walk taking a set of car keys which he used to drive off in the occupier’s Ford Focus.
Jones, who later admitted he could not drive, was erratic behind the wheel with a father and his six-year-old son forced to jump out of the way as he drove along Middlefield Lane.
Moments later, Jones lost control of the vehicle and crashed into some railings before running off. Later the same day he entered a house on Alec Rose Grove where he was again confronted by the occupier who first saw him as he emerged from her toilet. She shouted and Jones fled.
Jones went on to burgle a house in Brocklesby Close before making his way to Dunstall Walk where he was detained.
Jones, 37, of no fixed address, admitted a total of six charges of burglary, shoplifting and aggravated vehicle taking. He also pleaded guilty to charges of driving while unfit through drink or drugs, having no insurance or a driving licence and assaulting a PC. He asked for 12 other burglaries and attempted burglaries to be taken into consideration.
Mark Watson, defending, said Jones had previously overcome a drugs habit and built a new life for himself.
He held down a well-paid job and married but then went off the rails after being made redundant.
Mr Watson said: “It brought him back into contact with the circles he had avoided. He went back on heroin and lost all self respect.
“The net result is that his wife is filing for divorce. He has lost everything that he had.”