A judge raised concerns after prosecutors dropped a burglary charge against a suspect who had stolen goods at his Wolverhampton house, despite "strong" evidence he was involved in the raid.
Lee Cotterill, aged 23, was arrested shortly after two men broke into a house in Ashmore Park.
The victim was in his garden office when he saw two figures moving inside his home. He ran to the patio door and the men fled. Police arrived 10 minutes later. A man - who was later found with Cotterill - has since been jailed for 12 months for the burglary.
Both men were arrested and Cotterill's house at Raven Crescent, Ashmore Park, was searched. A wallet, keys, and a games console, all stolen in the raid at Peacock Avenue, were recovered.
Cotterill was on police bail at the time for another burglary, but that was dropped, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard yesterday.
He had been charged with the Peacock Avenue burglary, but prosecutors accepted a plea to the lesser charge of handling stolen goods.
Judge Martin Walsh said: "At first blush, I thought the evidence implicating him in the burglary was significant. He was with the man who pleaded guilty to burglary, he's got the items within a very short time.
"On the face of it, it looks like a fairly strong case for burglary. But there you are."
Mr Howard Searle, prosecuting, told the judge there was a "lack of connecting evidence" linking Cotterill to the break-in.
Judge Walsh handed Cotterill a 12-month community order and ordered him to do 180 hours of unpaid community work and pay £500 costs.