Brave neighbours confronted and chased a pair of Chesterfield burglars who broke into a home.
The group of five residents first challenged Graham Turner and Richard Judson inside the house – only to be threatened with a crowbar.
Undeterred, the neighbours gathered more people and chased the fleeing pair down the road and across fields with one of them even striking Judson with a stick as he tried to scale a fence.
By then the police, who had been called by one of the group, arrived and were able to detain and arrest the pair of criminals who have now been jailed after admitting their offence at Derby Crown Court.
Recorder Adrian Reynolds singled out the group of five for special praise after sending career criminal Turner and his accomplice to prison for two years each.
He said: “I simply want it to be passed on to them that the court is incredibly impressed by the bravery they have shown by confronting these offenders and continuing to chase after them even knowing one of them had a crowbar.
“The only reason I am dealing with these men is because of their public-spirited bravery.”
The court heard the burglary took place at a home in Bubnell Lane, Baslow, during the day on April 14.
The elderly couple who own the ‘secluded’ property was out out at the time.
Richard Thatcher, prosecuting, said a neighbour saw the pair load a TV into a ‘getaway car’ and then return to the house.
She then contacted a second neighbour who confronted the driver asking him what he was doing.
That driver, who has never been caught, ‘drove off at speed’ leaving Turner, 57 and Judson, 42, inside the house.
Mr Thatcher said: “They alerted two passing dog walkers and all of them went into the house to confront the defendants.
“The lady grabbed hold of Judson while Turner lunged at one of the men clutching a crowbar.
“They fled but credit to the group they followed the pair down the street at a safe distance while one of them called the police.
“The defendants went on to a field and attempted to cross the River Derwent but were unsuccessful.
“By now Judson had the crowbar and threatened one of the men with it as he tried to scale a fence.
“That man responded by hitting him with a stick he was holding.”
Turner, who has 53 convictions for 223 offences and who had only been handed a suspended prison sentence for burgling a working men’s club the day before this offence, and Judson both later pleaded guilty to burglary.
They initially gave ‘no comment’ answers to police during interviews after they were arrested.
Recorder Reynolds said: “I am not dealing with two kids here.
“It really is too sad for words – there was clear planning here.
“There is nothing I can do to help you when you go out and burgle other people’s homes like this.”
Will Bennett, representing Turner, of Kirkstone Road, Newbold, said his client committed the offence because he is a heroin and crack cocaine addict who had drug debts to clear.
Digby Johnson, representing Judson, of Highfield Road, Newbold, said his client was also a drug addict and is a father-of-two children, aged three and four, and has a partner who suffers a serious illness.