Three West Auckland neighbours held down a burglar for at least 15 minutes until police arrived.
One of the neighbours, who declined to be named, said he was having dinner in his Massey backyard about 7pm before Christmas 2014 when he heard a window being smashed in the house across the street. The elderly resident, who was in her 90s, was out, but the burglar had thrown a garden gnome through the window.
The three neighbours ran into the street to see what had happened.
"There was a car parked directly outside the house that was not a local, and one of the neighbours spoke to the lady in the car and she got abusive," the first neighbour said.
"One of the other neighbours went and investigated the lady's house and found a broken window and called out. The guy came out through the window with a screwdriver in his hand.
"We got him off-balance as he came over the fence to get out to the road. It was a 1.6m-high wooden fence. So the three of us tackled him and held him until the police came.
"They took some time to get there, at least 15 minutes."
One of the men's wives rang 111 to call for help and reported the car number plate.
"The lady in the car took off. They got her later on the motorway, she ran out of petrol at Rosebank Rd," the first neighbour said.
"The guy, the police knew him by name, he has 165 prior convictions. They had DNA from his blood where he had smashed the window. He got two-and-a-half years in prison."
He said the man struggled and tried to use the screwdriver, but the three men easily held him down.
A police spokeswoman said she had no figures on how often burglars were caught by the public, but "it does happen from time to time".
"We don't recommend that people put themselves or other people at greater risk, however we appreciate that it wholly dependent on the time, place and circumstances."