A burglar was caught red-handed with his coat pockets full of women's knickers, a court has heard.
Colin Creighton, 51, was tackled to the ground by a policeman at the property in Bristol after a neighbour spotted him in a bedroom with a torch.
After officers arrested him, they found his pockets crammed with knickers and a bag in the back garden containing women's underwear ready to be taken from the scene.
Bristol Crown Court heard that Creighton could not explain his actions to police but denied that the theft of underwear was for any form of sexual gratification.
The woman has been left so traumatised by the burglary that she has only spent one night at her four-bedroom semi-detached home in North Road, St Andrews, since.
Kenneth Bell, prosecuting, said the woman had locked the doors of her home, but had left a kitchen window ajar.
"It is an odd and troubling case," Mr Bell told the court.
"At 11.20pm two teenagers told a man on Belmont Road, which backs on to North Road, that they had seen a man acting suspiciously and climbing over a fence between the properties.
"He went downstairs and he could see the back of her property. His attention was drawn to the first floor, where he could see a light on and a torch being used.
"He then saw a man holding the torch and immediately phoned police."
Mr Bell said when the police arrived at the property Creighton tried to prevent them gaining entry but when they got inside they quickly apprehended him.
"He had a sock on his one hand and torch in his possession. He was arrested with ladies' underwear in his pocket," the prosecutor said.
"Police also found in the back garden a bag containing more ladies' underwear. During the course of the police interview the defendant said he had been drinking a lot. He denied going there with a purpose to steal.
"But he could not give any explanation why he had a sock on his hand or he was carrying a torch.
"What concerned the officer was the nature of the items taken. There was a laptop in the house and other electrical items but it was just the ladies' underwear that was taken."
The court heard that the woman was worried she had been watched in the nights before the burglary.
She said in a victim impact statement: "I cannot believe this has happened. I am very scared now."
At a previous hearing, Creighton, of Newton Street, Bristol, pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary on July 19 this year.
Guy Percival, defending, said: "He is fully aware of the severity of the offence and he has come today prepared for the worst."
Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC imposed a three-year community order with supervision and told Creighton he would have to attend the Thames Valley sex offenders programme - even though he had not committed a sexual offence.
"This was a very serious offence - breaking into somebody's house," the judge said.
"It is an unusual case. It is an inexplicable offence. The worrying thing about what you did and why ever you did it... it will have a really profound, understandable effect upon her.
"She described herself in the aftermath of being very scared.
"It goes without saying that what you did deserves a prison sentence and you cannot complain if I sent you to prison today.
"You clearly have problems and there are continuing problems but I have read a lot about you, including glowing reference and I am satisfied you are really addressing them and you are thoroughly ashamed of what you did.
"I have no doubt that the public interest is best served by making you comply with a community order with a supervision period for three years.
"If anything like this ever happens again you will go to prison."
Creighton told the judge: "I am deeply ashamed for what I did and I am very unhappy about it and I feel remorse for what I did."