A Coventry mum had an extra person on the photo she took of her children as they were going out – the burglar who was to break into their home after watching them leave.
But the picture on her mobile phone helped the police to identify the man in the distinctive baseball cap as one-time regular offender John Hogan.
And after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court, Hogan (40) of Wexford Road, Wood End, Coventry, was jailed for 12 months for the burglary.
Prosecutor Antonie Muller said that as a mother went out with her two children and their child minder on July 6, she took a photo of them on her mobile phone before getting in the car.
When they returned to their home in Haseley Road, Wood End, they found someone had broken the rear patio door to break into the house.
A brand-new expensive large-screen television had been moved but left behind, but a handbag and its contents had been stolen.
The police were contacted, and it turned out that in the background of the photo she had taken of her children was a man wearing a distinctive baseball cap standing with a mountain bike.
And officers recognised the man as Hogan, who Mr Muller said had a large number of previous convictions including 47 offences of theft, mainly from shops and from cars.
Graham Russell, defending, said Hogan’s offending had begun to tail off following his release from a two-year sentence for robbery in 2011.
“Drugs have bedevilled his life in the past, but on his release he made a voluntary referral to agencies to help him, he was in a relationship and he got a home.”
But the relationship dissolved and she moved out of the area, as a result of which Hogan could no longer see his children.
“There was a lapse into the use of crack cocaine, and he went into this street looking for somewhere to burgle.
“But he is insistent it was only a lapse. He had managed to go the best part of three-and-a-half years without offending in this fashion,” added Mr Russell.
Jailing Hogan, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “On the 6th of July in the middle of the day you burgled the house of a lady who had two young children.
“They had left the house, and I presume you had seen them leave because she had a photograph of her children which caught you in the background, which is how the police arrested you shortly afterwards.
“Your intention was to get a new boxed television worth four figures at the very least. You didn’t get away with it, but you did get a handbag.”
And the judge, who also ordered him to pay a compulsory £900 court charge, added: “You are 40 years old now; you’re too old to be behaving like this.
“It is a great pity to see you back into it, because you had dealt with your problems and settled down to some extent. I hope this is something of a wake-up call.”