Police were alerted to a man acting suspiciously at around 8am on Sunday, June 27 on Cambourne Avenue in Roker.
An off-duty Sergeant reported that the man was circling a car and peering inside before climbing into the back seat.
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The 42-year-old man was arrested and has since been charged with interfering with a motor vehicle and possession of a bladed article.
He will appear before magistrates in South Tyneside on Monday, June 28
Chief Inspector Marie Pollock, of Northumbria Police, has today praised the off-duty officer for alerting his colleagues to the suspect’s activity.
She said: “This was a case of good old-fashioned policing with an off-duty officer seeing something that didn’t quite look right, following his instinct and reporting it.
“That allowed us to get response cops at the scene within a matter of minutes and successfully detain a suspect who was in possession of a knife and suspected stolen property.
“He is now due to appear in court - which is a fantastic and swift result made possible by some outstanding teamwork.
“We know that this type of crime can have a hugely detrimental impact within our communities. I’d like to reassure everyone, as shown in this case, that we are committed to taking swift and robust action against suspected thieves and burglars in order to ensure this city remains a safe place to live.
“I would ask anybody who sees anything similar in their community – whether it’s somebody acting suspiciously or something that does not quite seem right – to get in touch and report it.”
Officers are urging anybody who sees anything unusual to contact them via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of website or by calling 101 or if a crime is happening, to call 999.