A CHRISTMAS thief met him match when a pair of Hall Green neighbours joined forces, in the true festive spirit, to help catch him.
The two residents sprang into action after seeing a car had been broken into and bags of gifts and personal belongings being carried away.
They got into one of their cars on Christmas Day morning and followed the thief, who was on-foot, from Cole Valley Road, while they called the police.
Keeping their distance they kept tabs on him until officers arrived soon after and arrested the 26-year-old man nearby in Dene Hollow.
All the gifts were recovered and the thief, from Yardley Wood, was charged with theft from a motor vehicle.
He appeared before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Boxing Day and was given a three-month community order with an electronically monitored curfew and ordered to pay £195.
The residents have been hailed for their role in catching the culprit.
One of them, Shatish Chauhan who is a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator said: “My neighbour called me and we immediately just got in the car.
“It was around 7.30am and, although it was dark, we kept our distance as we followed and I called the police.
“It was just a natural thing to do and I am just glad we could help. I would have no hesitation in doing it again if necessary.”
He added it showed the benefits of neighbourhood watch and the community looking out for each other.
Fellow resident, father-of-three Raza Hussain said he saw someone acting suspiciously.
“I just had to do something so called Satish and we followed him,” he added.
“It was Christmas Day and it would have been devastating to lose presents and belongings.
“The police did well and it was a real team effort.”
Inspector Imran Mirza said it was a great show of community spirit which prevented a family Christmas being ruined.
“Their quick actions made sure the suspect did not get away and we could arrive promptly to make an arrest,” he added.
“Theft is always hard to come to terms with, but especially on Christmas Day, which is a time for joy and families.
“But thanks to the efforts of these residents all the items were recovered and handed back to the victim immediately.”