A BURGLAR who broke into a family's house while they were sleeping was caught by police heading back to his home with their stolen iPads.

Bolton Crown Court was told how prolific thief, 49-year-old Paul Tillott, broke into the property in Colchester Drive, Farnworth, in the early hours of October 30 last year.

David James, prosecuting, told how, after the burglary was reported, police decided to visit Tillott's home.

"They immediately decided to check known burglars in the area, this defendant being the prime suspect," said Mr James.

"They went to his address and he wasn't there but they found him in a nearby street.

"He attempted to flee but was caught very quickly. He had one of the stolen iPads and a Garmin watch on him, along with a screwdriver and balaclava and the other iPads were in a garden nearby."

Mr James told how Jason and Emma Fitrzyk and their two children has gone to bed, alert to the possibility of a break-in as a neighbour told them someone had tried to burgle their home the day before.

At 5.45am Mrs Fitrzyk heard what sounded like a bottle rattling and got up to investigate but could not find anything.

"But when Mr Fitrzyk got up at about 6am he saw, in the study, a smashed window. Four iPads had been stolen and a Garmin watch," said Mr James.

"Around the same time a neighbour saw a male acting furtively and hiding in the driveway of address two doors down from the attacked property."

When arrested Tillott, of Smyrna Street, Radcliffe, refused to be interviewed by police, although he subsequently pleaded guilty to committing the crime.

A statement from the Fitrzyk family read out in court said: "It has left us extremely shaken. The children were crying and are scared to go to bed for fear that someone will come into our house again while we are sleeping."

The court heard that Tillott has convictions for 21 previous burglaries and attempted burglaries.

Mark Shank, defending, told The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh Tillott is remorseful and apologises to the victims.

"He is a drug user and whenever drugs get hold of him he finds it very difficult to get away from their claws," he said.

Judge Walsh sentenced Tillott to four years in prison, telling him: "Offences of this sort cause enormous distress on the part of those victims who awake to find that their homes have been invaded.

"It creates a sense of fear and a sense of violation. An offence of this sort passes the custodial threshold by a significant degree."