A MAN on his way to work at 6am became suspicious when he saw a van parked outside a house belonging to his cousin which was being renovated.

Blackburn magistrates heard he parked up and kept watch as two men removed piping from the house and loaded it into the van.

He followed when they drove off, talking to his cousin on the phone who in turn was updating the police who eventually stopped the van with the two men still in it.

Attila Kovacs, 46, of Rupert Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to burglary at Camberley House, Mellor Brook, and theft of copper pipe on August 25.

He was ordered to do 270 hours unpaid work and pay £750 compensation.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said when the witness drove past the house he thought the van might belong to the milkman but then realised that wasn't likely because nobody was living in the house.

She said the damage caused in removing the pipe was going to cost the owner around £7,000.

She said despite the evidence of the witness Kovacs had initially pleaded not guilty, only changing his plea on the day f trial.

Richard Prew, defending, said his client used the van to clear scrap and rubbish from people's back yards.

"On this day they had set out to do something similar but he accepts he should have known what they were doing was not legal," said Mr Prew.

"He is a man of previous good character."