A PROLIFIC burglar caught red handed by homeowners who made his escape on a strategically placed pushbike has been jailed for nearly four years.

Kevin Seal smashed into a house in Furneaux Lane, Fingringhoe, last month using tools he had found in the garden shed.

But the occupants – a couple in their sixties – returned home from shopping and noticed broken glass. They then saw Seal hanging out of their damaged door and tried to make a grab for him.

A tussle ensued and the retired male homeowner began chasing Seal, 57, up the road to an electrical substation where he had stashed a bike.

Seal cycled off but was found by police within a few hours.

He had swiped hundreds of pounds worth of sentimental jewellery as he searched the house and left a dirty hand print smeared on the couple’s bed.

The couple told police they had been left anxious and suspicious by the raid and horrified by the thought somebody had been in their home.

Seal, who has 26 previous convictions for 61 offences, admitted burglary at Ipswich Crown Court.

This was the fourth time he has burgled a house with his sentences increasing each time since he first struck in 2003.

Judge Rupert Overbury described his offending as habitual and jailed Seal, of no fixed address, for three years and ten months.

He said: “People whose homes are burgled by the likes of you - who is well used to stealing violating their security and privacy - suffer for a long time afterwards.

“The dirty hand mark especially must be an awful thing to have to remember.

“It might have taken you five or ten minutes to do what you wanted to do but for them it lasts a lot longer.

“You’re a habitual criminal and no stranger to burglary.

“If you keep on committing them then the starting point for your sentences are going to get higher and higher and higher.

“You choose to reoffend because it suits your lifestyle so the only option is a prison sentence.”