Burglar caught after a homeowner watched him walking around their property on a security camera
Terry Donaldson, 40, broke into the house on Stanhope Street, South Shields, which was unoccupied after the owner moved out two months prior.
However, it still belonged to him and he still attended from time to time last summer.
Joe Hedworth, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: "In June 2022 he (the complainant) moved out of the property to live at another address and only returned to collect his post.
"On the 29th of August he received a telephone alert to a security camera. It had detected motion within the kitchen area.
"The complainant watched live footage from his phone and saw a male walking around his house."
The homeowner rang the police but continued to watch Donaldson via the stream.
The court heard that when officers arrived at the address, the defendant came out from the bathroom and said he had been sleeping rough and was seeking shelter.
But a cap was found on top of a washing machine, which Donaldson had been seen wearing, that didn't belong to him.
There was also a box of personal items which had been knocked over and part of a motor vehicle was found, which the owner feared may have been brought into the house as a weapon.
Donaldson, of no fixed abode, who has relevant previous convictions, pleaded guilty to burglary.
The court heard he admitted it on the basis he thought the property was empty and he was trying to "clean himself up".
However, his basis of plea stated that had he found anything of value, he would have taken it.
Fiona Lamb, defending, said: "The defendant didn't have anywhere to live and he went into the house because it was cold and it was raining."
"The defendant wishes to get off drugs and become offence-free and start working.
"He tells me he had been clean for some time and he tells me that in the Covid period when everyone was staying in the house, he slipped back into old habits."
The court also heard he has offers of work through his dad in Spain and his mother, who lives in Northampton.
Mr Recorder James Wood KC sentenced him to two years and eight months behind bars.