A Doncaster man has been jailed after being caught out by a cricket club whose players saw a crook raiding their changing rooms during a match.
The game was brought to an unexpected halt so the teams could catch the intruder who had been spotted looting the pavilion.
Samuel Stanley sneaked into the changing rooms to steal 12 iPhones from the jacket pockets of players while a 50-over match near Accrington, Lancashire, was underway on Sunday.
However, he was seen fleeing from Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club by the wicketkeeper of the home team, who alerted an off-duty policeman who was waiting to bat for away side Haslingden.
The officer then rounded up his teammates before they and the home team gave chase across nearby fields – even using GPS tracker technology when the suspect fled into woodland.
Police dog handlers were called in and, helped by the cricketers, arrested a man and recovered all the phones.
Stanley, aged 29, of Ferrers Road, Wheatley, Doncaster, was was jailed for three months on Monday by Blackburn magistrates after he indicated a guilty plea to stealing six phones worth £3,050 from the changing room.
The incident occurred as Church were taking on Haslingden in the Lancashire League.
Play had to be stopped at 3.30pm when a man, who was initially assumed to be a match official, was spotted prowling around the away team’s changing rooms.
Sam Tucker, wicket keeper for Church, said: “We were playing cricket and we see this guy was sitting in the players’ area of pavilion.
“I assumed he was a club official of the away team, but he kept nipping in and out of the changing room.
“I kept my eye on him and he made an exit.
“We chased him through the fields. There was tracking on one of the phones, so we were moving around following the GPS.
“Police had arrived and police dogs and eventually we gripped him.
“Technology is amazing, we couldn’t have done it without the GPS tracking.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it on a cricket field before.”
Graham Knowles, a batsman for Haslingden, said: “Our lads gave chase and they caught up with him in a field and retrieved the phones.
“They used another phone to track the phones with GPS tracking.
“One of our teammates is a policeman in Burnley so he led the charge.
“It was the first time anything like this has happened in 25 years of playing cricket.”
Mr Tucker still had his helmet on and his bat in his hand during the chase.