AN OPPORTUNIST burglar who followed a 16-year-old boy into his house has been jailed for five years.
Joseph Price attempted to steal a car from the driveway of the Chester-le-Street property, Durham Crown Court heard.
But Price was thwarted after the boy saw him from an upstairs window and alerted his father.
“The father dropped his son off at the front door and then went to work,” said prosecutor Paul Currer.
“The son was let in with his father’s key and went upstairs to his room, closing the front door behind him but not locking it.”
He added: “A noise alerted the son to some activity downstairs.
“He thought his father had returned home unexpectedly, but it was this defendant looking for the keys to the family’s other car which was parked on the driveway.”
The court heard Price opened the car, but appeared unable to start it.
Mr Currer said: “The son observed what was going on and called his father, who made his way back home.
“Price walked away from the house, and the son followed at a safe distance.
“The father spotted Price in a nearby street and detained him until police arrived.”
Price, of Lowther Avenue, Chester-le-Street, admitted burglary on April 26.
The 21-year-old has previous convictions for burglary, and qualifies for a minimum three-year sentence.
Tony Davis, defending, said in mitigation: “It is a shame to see a man so young with such a record.
“He is clearly in danger of becoming a recidivist.
“Mr Jackson has been recalled to prison for the licence period of his last sentence.
“His earliest release date is March, 2015.”
Judge Peter Kelson jailed Jackson for five years.
The judge said: “That sentence starts from today, I can not make it consecutive.
“Members of the public may wonder why you can all but get away with this latest offence, but that is the law.”