A THIEF was caught trying to steal money from the office of a South Tyneside social club.
Steven Brown was found in the basement office of Elmfield Social Club in Hebburn with a staff member’s purse.
The 30-year-old was held by regulars until the police got to the Campbell Park Road venue.
Brown, of Keats Avenue, West Boldon, pleaded guilty to burglary at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
John McGlone, prosecuting, told the court that Brown was caught stealing the £15 last Thursday.
He said: “He asked for change at the bar then went to the cellar and into the office, where he saw the purse lying.
“That area is not open to the public, and the bar staff followed him and confronted him.
“He said he was trying to find a friend and had taken a wrong turn, but he had taken the cash from the purse.”
Mr McGlone told the court that Brown tried to leave through a fire door, but was detained by the purse’s owner and customers.
He added: “When he was interviewed by police, he told them he picked up the purse but he didn’t know what he was going to do with it.”
David Forrester, defending, said: “He admits being in the premises and is allowed to be in the club of course.
“However he went into a part that he wasn’t entitled to be in. He saw an opportunity and made the unfortunate decision to try and take it.
“He was caught and the money was returned.”
He added: “This is right at the bottom end of the scale as far as burglaries go.
“It is a technical burglary because he is entitled to be in the club, but not that area.”
Magistrates gave Brown a six-month conditional discharge, with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.