A prolific burglar was caught after an off-duty police officer spotted him preparing to break in to a property, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
Craig Chilman, who had gone on the run while facing recall to prison, walked up the drive of a property in Godiva Crescent, Bourne, but was seen by trainee detective Thomas Hunt who was visiting a nearby property.
Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said that the officer, who is based at Thorpe Wood Police Station, Peterborough, recognised Chilman and kept watch before contacting Lincolnshire Police.
Chilman was subsequently arrested inside the house before he had the opportunity to steal anything.
Mr Scott said “Chilman said he had come to Bourne that day to say goodbye to his family before handing himself in.
“He said he decided to go for a walk and decided on the spur of the moment to go in.”
The court was told he had 18 previous convictions for house burglary.
Chilman (28), formerly of Gilpin Street, Peterborough, admitted burglary with intent to steal from the property on February 14.
He also admitted burglary at a house in Belsize Avenue, Peterborough, when jewellery, a lap top computer and cash were taken on February 3 and asked for one further offence to be considered.
He was jailed for five years.
Judge Sean Morris told him “It seems to me that you are a professional burglar who cannot keep his hands off other people’s property.
“It is time you had a shot across your bows.”
Sunil Khanna, defending, said Chilman had tried to go straight and found work after being released from his last sentence but was then recalled to prison after missing a probation appointment.
He was released again in January with a condition that he lived at a probation hostel in Lincoln but then broke the terms of that arrangement and knew he faced a second recall.
“Living at the hostel meant he could not see any of his friends. His drug habit escalated.
“These offences took place to feed his habit.”