A sniffer dog is being tipped for a successful career after impressing police chiefs with his tracking skills after he cornered an on-the-run thief in Sheffield.
Two-year-old German Shepherd Lex chased a thief through the city after he fled when confronted by his handler, PC Richard Wilby-Newton.
The dog pursued him along Abbeydale Road South and up a track leading to Ecclesall woods.
Unable to shake off the police dog, the thief was eventually brought to a halt in the woods and detained by Lex until his handler arrived at the scene to make an arrest.
Ricky Clover, aged 38, of The Dale, Woodseats, was initially challenged by PC Wilby-Newton when he spotted him close to the scene of a suspected van break-in on West View Lane, Totley, on Tuesday, March 24.
A member of public had seen a figure acting suspiciously around the van and dialled 999.
PC Wilby-Newton spotted a bike and a toolbox leant up against some bushes on nearby Dore Road and when he turned his van around to check on the items he saw Clover approach them and pick up the toolbox.
When he was challenged Clover jumped onto the bike and cycled off.
PC Wilby-Newton released Lex to give chase and when he caught up with the dog in the woods he arrested Clover on suspicion of theft.
He was charged with three counts of theft from a motor vehicle and pleaded guilty during an appearance at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court the following day.
He is to be sentenced at a later date.
Sergeant John Hardwick, of the South Yorkshire Police dog section, said: “Lex is only two-and-a-half years old however he is proving to be an excellent police dog.
“This was a successful arrest by both PC Wilby-Newton and Lex, and another job that demonstrates how vital a dog section can be in detecting crime.”
Bosses are merging the South Yorkshire police dog unit with Humberside’s in a bid to cut costs.
It is one of a number of departments to become regional units as Government budget cuts bite.
Between April 2013 and 2014 police sniffer dogs tracked down 179 suspects at large in South Yorkshire.