The suspect sneaked into the changing rooms to steal 12 iPhones from the jacket pockets of players during a 50-over match at Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club in Accrington, Lancashire.

The suspect was first spotted by the Church team's wicket keeper.

He alerted an off-duty police officer who was waiting for his turn to bat and he rounded up his teammates to give chase, says the report.

The players pursued the suspect across fields and into a wood. Joined by members of the home team, they used GPS technology on another phone to continue the pursuit.

Police dog handlers were called in and with the help of cricketers they arrested a man and recovered the phones.

The chase ended particularly well for the away team, Haslingden. Not only were all their phones recovered but when the match resumed it was shortened from 50 overs to 30. Although probably not in circumstances anticipated by Duckworth Lewis they won by six wickets.

Lancashire Police said on Tuesday that a 29-year-old man from Doncaster was being held on suspicion of theft.

The incident occurred on Sunday as Church were taking on Haslingden in the Lancashire League.

Play had already been stopped after a former club chairman was taken ill at the side of the pitch and rushed to hospital. But at 3.30pm (local time) the match was stopped again when the thief was spotted around the changing rooms.

"We were playing cricket and we see this guy was sitting in the player’s area of the pavilion. I assumed he was a club official of the away team but he kept nipping in and out of the changing room," Sam Tucker, wicketkeeper for Church, said.

"I kept my eye on him and he made an exit. We chased him through the fields. There was tracking on one of the phones, so we were moving around following the GPS. Technology is amazing, we couldn't have done it without the GPS tracking," he said.

"I've never experienced anything like it on a cricket field before," he added.


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