A SNEAK-IN burglar who crept into a family home before trying to steal their car was rumbled – after the victim instinctively took his picture on her phone.

Prolific crook John Ferguson left a young mum terrified as he brazenly entered her Silksworth home just moments after her children had been dropped off at school.

Ferguson quickly pinched the keys to the Ford Puma that was parked outside – but his deception was spotted by an alert neighbour who raised the alarm.

The victim then looked outside and saw 25-year-old Ferguson sat in the driver’s seat desperately trying to press the start button.

Ferguson released the handbrake and the car moved eight feet down the street before the victim managed to stop the thief in his tracks.

Aware that the game was nearly up, Ferguson got out of the vehicle and started to scurry down the street – but the victim quickly got out her phone and took a number of pictures of the intruder.

After a disgruntled Ferguson threatened violence, the victim backed off and later rang police – who instantly recognised the offender because he had a distinctive cut under his right eye.

Ferguson, of Robert Street, Sunderland, was arrested and has now pleaded guilty to burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, driving without a licence, no insurance use and failing to provide a specimen.

On Monday he was jailed for nearly two-and-a-half years and banned from the roads for over five years.

In a statement prepared for court, Ferguson’s victim revealed the events of February 3 this year have had a profound effect on her.

She said: “This incident has left me shaken and frightened – someone has been in my home.

“I have young children and they could have been at home. I was very lucky to have not been hurt but I did fear violence when this male squared up to me. No one has the right to come into my home.”

Ferguson, who has 34 convictions for 62 offences since 2009, is now back behind bars.

Detective Sergeant Chris Raper-Smith, of Northumbria Police’s Southern Burglary Team, said: “I would like to thank the victim of this case who showed incredible bravery when confronted with an intruder who had entered her home.

“She instinctively pulled out her phone and took pictures of the offender – and that quick decision has helped put Ferguson back in jail, where he deserves to be.

“There is absolutely no place for this type of offending and we will continue to do all we can to put burglars and thieves before the courts. I know the community of Silksworth will rest easy knowing that this prolific criminal has been taken off the streets.”

A judge sentenced Ferguson to 876 days imprisonment and disqualified him from driving for 1,912 days.