A BUNGLING burglar made so much noise struggling with a cat flap that he woke the homeowner who caught him red handed.
Ryan Ellis was caught poking a stick through the cat flap at a house in Hurstwood Road, Sunderland, in an attempt to dislodge keys in the interior side of the door.
But the intoxicated 27-year-old made such a “rattling” noise in the kitchen at 5.15am he woke the female resident, who caught him in the act.
After she raised the alarm, Ellis was caught “flushed and sweating” hiding behind a gate and was arrested.
He told police officers that he had been out in Sunderland city centre and was returning to his mother’s home.
Other residents reported seeing a man of a similar description acting suspiciously and he was seen in another garden where a shed was broken into but nothing taken.
The serial thief had four previous convictions for burglary.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said: “At 5.15 in the morning, she heard the noise of a rattling so she went down to the kitchen and saw the figure crouching down behind the PVC door.
“He had his hand in the cat flap and was trying to get the keys from the door with a stick.
“She was able to see him through the glass.
“He ran out through the back garden and into the back lane.
“She was able to get sight of him and provided a description.”
Jamie Adams, defending, said that Ellis had a serious drinking problem, which started when both his parents were sent to prison when he was 20.
Ellis, of Hendon Burn Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary, which was committed on May 8 this year.
Deferring sentence for four months at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Brian Freedman told him: “If you were sent away for four years today, you could not complain.
“It may not be the most serious offence ,but you gave that lady a terrible shock at five o’clock in the morning and waking her from sleep.
“You have a shocking record for burglary, but I’m prepared to give you one final chance because there are indications you really do want to rehabilitate yourself.”