POLICE swarmed an estate after a woman caught a burglar trying to steal her television.
Shocked residents have described how eight police cars, including armed police and sniffer dogs, surrounded the home in John Kent Avenue, Colchester, and nearby streets.
The force helicopter was scrambled and remained above the scene during the two-hour manhunt at 10.50pm on Friday.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “He walked into the front room, took the TV and was walking out of the house.
“She screamed at him and he dropped the TV in the doorway, grabbed her handbag and ran through my neighbour’s garden.
“He broke her fence, damaged flower pots and ran though her pond.
“They found the lady’s purse, but there was no money in it.
“I reckon he got away at Bookers car park behind my house and along Gosbecks Road.
“He must have had someone waiting with a vehicle.”
John Anderson, who lives three doors down from the semidetached house where the burglary happened, said: “I went outside for a cigarette, went back in and then heard such a commotion.
“I went back out and the man had run through my garden and climbed over the back.
“I found the purse and gave it back.
“The lady was just with a kid.
It must have been quite scary.”
An Essex Police spokesman said they were called after the householder disturbed an intruder.
He said: “Officers established the suspect had fled across the rear gardens.
“A search was carried out with the assistance of the police helicopter, but unfortunately the man was not traced.”
The suspect is described as white, 6ft, of medium build, with very short cropped hair and light stubble.
He was wearing a pale blue short sleeved shirt and light coloured trousers.
Anyone with information about the break-in can call Colchester CID on 101.