Cat foils burglary by alerting pensioner when raider stole cash, crucifix and diary from South Shields home

Lee Wooden
Lee Wooden

A burglar was caught and his pensioner victim got back her stolen property after she was alerted to his raid at her home - by her cat.

The 77-year-old realised something was wrong at her bungalow when her pet became strangely unsettled and appeared to have become alerted to something.

Newcastle Crown Court heard after the woman, who lived alone with just the animal in South Shields, secured her front door which she realised was open, she was confronted by serial home raider Lee Wooden in her hallway.

The court heard Wooden, who has convictions for 52 previous burglaries, had helped himself to the victim's purse which contained around £160 in cash, her mobile phone, a crucifix pendant, vouchers and her diary

But thanks to the feline intervention, the woman was able to alert the police almost immediately and the 46-year-old was arrested in a nearby garden.

All of the stolen property was returned to the pensioner.

Wooden, of Brookside Avenue, Blyth, Northumberland, pleaded guilty to burglary has now been jailed for three years.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told the court the raid happened at around 10.40am on April 11 when the victim was in her bungalow with her pet.

Miss Masters said: "The postman came and shortly afterwards she noticed her cat had become unsettled, as if he had become alerted.

"As a result she looked through to the front and discovered her front door open.

"She initially thought the postman may have left it open and thereafter closed and locked it before walking into her front bedroom.

"She walked in then came back and was confronted by a man, later established to be this defendant."

The court heard Wooden initially claimed to his victim he had been looking for someone called Mary but then left the house and broke into a run.

Miss Masters added: "Having seen the defendant was running away, she assumed he must have stolen property from her address."

The court heard after a quick inspection the woman realised a drawer and wall unit had been opened and so called the police.

Wooden was arrested hiding in a garden at a nearby address and the victim's stolen property was returned.

Mr recorder Christopher Williams said the victim has been left "shaken and wary" by the ordeal.

The judge said the raid must have been "very frightening indeed" and added: "She is an elderly and vulnerable female, she lives alone, save for her pet."

Kate Barnes, defending, said Wooden had been released from his last prison sentence in November last year with "enormous hope" for a better future.

Miss Barnes said after having difficulty finding accommodation and without prospect of any real support, Wooden slipped back into heroin addiction.

She added: "He does express sincere regret in respect of the victim in this case.

"He would wish to make amends to her, were it in his power to do so. He wishes, through me, to express remorse and apologise to her."