BUNGLING burglar Martin Urban handed himself in to police over a terrifying shop raid after seeing himself in the Echo.
Urban had been grabbing packets of cigarettes at the Premier Foods store in Hylton Road, Sunderland, when he was confronted by the stunned shopkeeper.
Realising he’d been caught, the 41-year-old serial thief dropped his stash of tobacco and fled the store empty handed.
In a bid to catch Urban, police released CCTV footage of him caught in the act which then appeared in the Echo.
Within minutes of the paper going on sale, Urban realised the game was up and handed himself in.
Prosecutor Jacqueline Wilkinson told Newcastle Crown Court: “CCTV was circulated in the Sunderland Echo and this defendant handed himself in to the police.
“He said ‘I saw myself in the Echo’.”
The raid has had a lasting effect on the shopkeeper, whose husband owns the store.
She said: “My family and I work very hard over long hours to earn our money and this person has decided to help himself to our property.
“Although I know he has gone, there is a fear of what he might do should he come back.
“I have to live with the fear and the memory of what he did.”
The court heard Urban was originally accused of brandishing a knife during the confrontation inside the shop, but he was cleared by a jury.
He admitted a charge of burglary.
His barrister Jamie Adams told the court: “At the time when Martin Urban surrendered himself to the police, it was within about 20 minutes of the newspaper, the Sunderland Echo, coming into being that afternoon.”
Urban, of Noble Street, Hendon, also admitted burgling another shop in Sunderland just a few days before, where a worker’s bank card and other personal property were taken from a staff area.
Mr Recorder Jeremy Freedman sentenced Urban to 32 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work.
The judge said it must have been a “terrifying experience” for the shopkeeper.
The judge Urban: “You saw the CCTV being circulated by the Sunderland Echo and you handed yourself in.”