A house burglar was caught after a webcam on the owner's computer recorded images of him carrying out the raid.
Stills of serial raider Benjamin Park, 19, of Cambridge, were sent to an email address so even when he stole the computer, the images could be found.
Police said it was a "brilliant idea" of software engineer Duncan Grisby, who set it after a previous burglary.
Park was given an 11-month jail term by magistrates in Cambridge on Tuesday after admitting burglary.
"It was an absolutely brilliant idea of Mr Grisby's," said Det Sgt Alan Page, head of Cambridgeshire Police Burglary Squad.
"The webcam was set up in his computer and began filming once it registered motion. It captured every movement Park made.
"At one point he stared into the computer as if it might be making a noise or something to make him suspicious.
"He then stole the computer but it didn't matter because Mr Grisby had set it up so that as it was recording it was sending the images to an email address.
"When the break-in was discovered Mr Grisby simply gave us the email address and we were able to watch several minutes of footage and say, `That's Ben Park'.
"Mr Grisby is an extremely bright man. He'd set this up because he'd been burgled some years ago and the quality was superb.
'Better than alarm'
"It was better than a burglar alarm and when Park initially denied breaking in to the property we were simply able to show him the footage."
Magistrates heard Park, who has more than 13 previous convictions for theft, had stolen computer equipment and other property with a value of nearly £4,000 from Mr Grisby's study.
He committed the offence in February while on bail after being charged with an attempted burglary in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in August.
"The webcam made our job really easy," added DS Page. "It was a pleasure to show him the pictures and see his expression when we interviewed him."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/16 22:26:26 GMT
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