A teenage burglar who was apprehended by a plucky resident has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term after a court heard he was "vulnerable, hungry and homeless" at the time.
Aiden Craigie, 19, of Victoria Parade, Preston, was offered £100 to use a key to get into a house on Atherton Close in Preston and steal a safe.
But quick thinking next door neighbour Michael Haworth, who heard the intruder smashing a safe off a wall, confronted him as he tried to flee through a bedroom window on October 3.
The brave neighbour caught him in a bear hug outside and restrained him, even though Craigie had threatened to stab him.
Prosecuting, Hanifa Patel, said "It was around 9.10am. The neighbour was in his bedroom when he heard quite loudly someone shouting 'Hello, is anyone in?'
"He assumed the man's son had returned and didn't think of it, but within seconds of that shout he heard an extremely loud banging noise coming from inside the house - he describes the sound as someone smashing a hol in the wall.
"He thought perhaps the neighbour was having a boiler fitted, but he did decide to check as he is very friendly with his neighbours.
"He saw the defendant hanging out of the victim's bedroom window. The man immediately ran outside. The defendant jumped out and as he did Mr Haworth grabbed him in a bear hug and called his partner to alert the police."
Craigie told him: " OK mate you caught me, just let me go" before saying he hadn't had anything to eat and needed the money.
Officers searched him and found a house key the victim's son believed he had lost the month before. They also found a crowbar in the bedroom and damage to the wall.
Defending, John Kennerly said: "At the time of this offence he had fallen out with his mother and was ejected from the home, and whilst ejected he found himself in a truly inappropriate house used by drug users, to stay out of the cold. He took cannabis and became in effect almost homeless and was, to put it bluntly, hungry.
"He was offered an opportunity to earn £100. The key was given to him with specific instructions to go to the property and remove items."
Recorder Stanley Reiz imposed 16 months in a YOI, but suspended it for 24 months.
Craigie, who was given a rehabilitation activity and curfew, must do 150 hours unpaid work and pay a £100 fine and £140 surcharge.