QUICK-THINKING fire crews filmed a burglary in progress and then called their colleagues in blue to arrest the culprits.

The two men raided a building in full view of firefighters who were dealing with a blaze across the road.

Blackburn magistrates heard the firemen videoed Thomas Junior McAleese and Stuart Currie removing laptops from Newground Community Interest Company on Bolton Road.

McAleese, 32, of Ridgeway Avenue, Blackburn, and Currie, 32, of Oban Drive, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft of seven HP laptops worth around £5,000.

They were both sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £100 compensation.

Alex Mann, prosecuting, said the offences had been committed under the gaze of firefighters.

"They were dealing with an incident across the road and saw the defendants break into the building," said Mrs Mann. "They called the police and started filming the incident."

When police arrived they arrested the defendants nearby and recovered the laptops from under some abandoned carpets where they had been hidden.

Ian Huggan, defending, said the offence had been opportunistic.

"They had been at a friend's house drinking and were on their way home," said Mr Huggan.

Mick Smith, managing director at Newground, part of the Together Housing Group, commented: “Newground was alerted to a break-in through our security system and were able to identify that a number of computers had been taken, which we were later able to retrieve.

“We are grateful to the quick thinking of the fire service and the swift response of the police in reporting, gathering evidence on and apprehending the individuals responsible.”