A FAMILY tracked down a burglar an hour after he broke into their home — using an iPhone app.

They turned to the high-tech device after Gary Foulkes burgled the house in Ryeburn Drive, Bromley Cross, and made off with two mobile phones, a handbag, two wallets, a purse, cash, and bank cards and other items.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the father and son in the house phoned the police and used the Find My iPhone app to track Foulkes' location.

The court heard how the couple were upstairs when their 15-year-old son, also upstairs, heard the front door open. He assumed that the sound was his father opening the door to let the cat in.

When they realised what had happened, the father and son got into their car and followed the tracker — then later met up with the police who were heading to the same address.

Meanwhile, Foulkes had arrived at a house in Winster Drive, Breightmet, and had asked the residents for a drink, and was said to be sweating profusely.

But while he was at the house police arrived, and Foulkes was arrested while trying to run away, within an hour of the theft.

He was found with the two stolen mobile phones, and some of the other stolen items, but the handbag and wallets containing credit cards and driving licences still missing.

Defending, Andrew Costello told the court that Foulkes said he would use his time in court productively to address “issues” he is dealing with.

Foulkes was previously sentenced to four years in prison for arson in 2010, and was jailed for 16 weeks earlier this year for breaking into the garage of artist Robert Cox, the brother of Radio DJ Sara Cox.

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Foulkes to 876 days in prison, about two years and four months.

Foulkes, aged 33, of Angle Street, Tonge Moor, was also ordered to pay a criminal court charge of £900 and a surcharge of £120.

He had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.

Following the hearing, one of the homeowners, who asked not to be named said: "I don't think he expected to be caught like that, with a bit of 21st century policing.

"I am pleased he has been sent to prison, but the reality is it is likely he will offend again. It is good that there is one less burglar on the streets at the moment."

Detective Inspector Chris Mossop, of Bolton police, urged anyone who has the app to sign up to it.

After the hearing, he said: "This is a really good result. It sends a message to thieves that if you steal a phone with this app on it, it is virtually worthless and can be tracked down by the police."

n The Find My iPhone app uses GPS technology to track the location of phone. Users can sign up for the app on their phone, and then log on to icloud.com to view its location.

As well as being a tool to track down stolen phones, it can be used to help find devices when they have been misplaced. The app can remotely play a sound. In addition, the user can enable lost mode, to remotely lock the screen and render it inaccessible, and people can also remotely erase all data from the phone to make it useless.