A dozy burglar who led police from the scene of the break-in to his front door with a trail of footprints in the snow has avoided jail.
Officers followed the tracks left by drunken former soldier Lewis Ward, 28, from the home where he sneaked in and grabbed an iPad to his home in Raby Street, Darlington.
He was arrested just 90 minutes after he walked in through his victim's unlocked front door at 11.30pm on January 18.
He stole the iPad from a woman who was alone and waiting for her partner to come home from work.
She had been getting changed upstairs and when she spotted fresh snow on the living room carpet and saw her boyfriend had not returned, she realised there had been a break-in, Darlington Magistrates' Court heard.
Officers spotted a distinctive footprint in the snow by her front door and followed the tracks down alleyways and back lanes.
Unemployed Ward, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and left the Army in 2007, made an immediate confession and showed police where he had hidden the tablet behind his wardrobe, the court heard.
Chairman of the bench Rajeev Devgan said the offence was serious with the aggravating feature of the break-in happening when the victim was at home, alone.
Ward was handed a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for a year, with an order to carry out 240 hours unpaid work and was subjected to a weekend night-time curfew.
He must also pay £85 costs and a £80 victim surcharge from his benefits.