POLICE officers caught a power tool thief red-handed after following the trail of sawdust he left behind.

When John Paul McCready, 38, of no fixed abode, stole an electric bench tile cutter from a van parked in Penrith Gardens, in Gateshead, on October 25, he thought no one would be able to catch him.

What he didn’t see, was the trail of plaster dust spilling out of the saw, tracking his movements as he left the scene and made off towards a nearby property.

Officers attended the scene and followed the dusty track where they found McCready with the cutter and a jumper thick with tile dust. He was immediately arrested and charged with theft from a motor vehicle the following day. The cutter was recovered and returned to its owner.

McCready attended Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court on October 27 where he pleaded guilty and was fined £80 for the offence and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £30.