Published: 14:18, 15 November 2019
| Updated: 18:24, 15 November 2019
A burglary victim, a 'Good Samaritan' motorist, and an off-duty police officer, have all been commended by a judge after hunting down a thief.
Retired Andrew Coe had returned home after going out for a cuppa, only to hear a noise in the upstairs of his home in Brier Road, Sittingbourne.
He thought at first it was just the wind rattling the windows but after checking discovered a thief in his son's bedroom.
Burglar Luke Dale fled out of the window - only to be pursued by the angry householder.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how a female motorist offered to join the pursuit, although they lost sight of the 24-year-old who was with an accomplice.
Prosecutor Keith Yardy said: "Mr Coe challenged the burglar to stop and said he thought Dale said at one point: 'I'm Sorry' but carried on running.
"A passing motorist, Mrs Sims, then offered to take Mr Coe in her car to try and find the defendant."
Mr Coe later told the police: "I feel complete bewilderment and shock after finding the man trying to take items away from my house, something I had not experienced before and I hope I will never experience again."
It was then PC Robinson, an off-duty officer, joined the posse and Dale was arrested and charged.
Judge Philip Statman said: "He was a very brave man in chasing, as was Mrs Sims, who stopped to assist Mr Coe in her car, and the police officer, who all showed remarkable courage. They are all to be highly commended."
Dale, of Harkness Court, Sittingbourne, has been jailed for two years after admitting five burglary, attempted burglary and theft offences, and asking for five others to be taken into consideration.
Prosecutor Keith Yardy told how on September 24 Dale had gone to a house in Brookes Place in Newington and broke in as the parents were collecting their child from school.
"When the householders arrived home they found their side gate ajar and property ransacked," he said.
"I trust that you will punish this individual accordingly so that they will see the harm they have caused and I hope their sentence will help to rehabilitate them in a way that is needed" - a burglary victim of Luke Dale
"Their home was left in a mess. Items were stolen, including a jewellery box, three credit cards and cash.
"It was a neighbour nearby who saw two males acting suspiciously taking carrier bags before getting into an Audi car.
"The same day, there was another burglary at Dennis Wilcocks Close in Newington when three rings and some watches were taken."
On September 26, Dale had also burgled a house in Wynn Road, Tankerton, leaving the householder "feeling stressed and violated" after stealing £15,500 worth of items including an engagement ring given to the victim by her grandmother.
She later told the judge in her Victim Impact Statement: "I trust that you will punish this individual accordingly so that they will see the harm they have caused and I hope their sentence will help to rehabilitate them in a way that is needed."
The court heard Dale also broke into another house in Randle Way, Bapchild, and stole from an 84-year-old victim, while he slept, taking a retirement watch, and causing £220 worth of damage.
Dale claimed he now feels "disgusted with himself".
Det Con Andrew Palmer, the investigating officer for the case, said: "Dale committed a significant amount of burglaries in a short period of time, causing significant distress in the process.
"The items he stole were of sentimental value to the victims, which only aggravates his offending.
"I am pleased he is no longer able to target innocent members of the public and hope his sentence acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves."
More by this authorPaul Hooper