THE actions of two public-spirited neighbours led to the arrest of a burglar who raided the home of an 82-year-old widow, Worcester Crown Court was told.

Roger Page went to the bungalow in Mearse Lane, Barnt Green, on May 12 after hearing the alarm and two loud thuds. He was joined by Michael Luce who took a photograph of a strange car on the drive and dialled 999.

The registration number enabled police to trace 30-year-old Anton McElroy and he was arrested a short time later at his home in Oberon Close, Rednal, said David Iles, prosecuting.

Mr Iles said the owner of the bungalow was away but she had locked all the interior doors and the noise was caused by McElroy breaking them open as he ransacked the place.

His haul included a collection of jewellery, much of sentimental value, and he tried to hide a ring as he was driven in a police vehicle. He had left a trace of blood as he smashed a window to get in and he was also identified by fingerprints and foot marks.

McElroy, who pleaded guilty to burglary and driving without insurance, was jailed for three years. His record included several convictions for burglary.

Lewis Perry, mitigating, said McElroy was being treated for a drug problem and had kept out of trouble for some time. But on the day of the burglary he had fallen out with his girlfriend and was depressed. He had obtained a job as a fork lift driver and seemed to have turned a corner in his life.

Judge Michael Cullum said McElroy had a dreadful list of convictions for a man of 30. He did not believe his claim that he had been out of trouble for five years.

He also felt that there had been a degree on planning in the raid on the bungalow. The victim had taken security precautions and deserved the protection of the courts.