The efforts of Sgt Dave Gott, who is part of the Dedicated Neighbourhood Team (DNT) in Melton, were hailed at a Leicester Crown Court hearing on Friday.
The court heard how Michael Elkerton (39), of no fixed address, was caught in Asfordby thanks to the quick-thinking of the officer, who tipped off colleagues after spotting the suspect.
Elkerton was sentenced to five years and three months in prison after he pleaded guilty to the burglary.
Sgt Gott was out walking in the village when he saw the defendant acting suspiciously while leaving the grounds of All Saints Church, on Church Lane, on the evening of Monday April 4 this year.
He called the force control room just a few minutes after a call had been received to report a burglary at an address nearby - around a 15-minute walk away.
The victim, a woman in her 90s, had around £300 in cash and her bank card stolen from her home.
Officers were immediately deployed to the area and, while they were en route, Sgt Gott saw the defendant enter a nearby pub.
A short time later Elkerton noticed police outside and ran from the back entrance of the pub in a bid to escape.
He was chased by the off-duty officer and a number of colleagues, before being arrested in Whitlock Way by a fellow officer from the Melton policing team.
Following Elkerton’s arrest, he was searched and found with the cash and the victim’s bank card.
Sgt Gott said: “It was just by chance I was out walking in the area where Elkerton had just committed the offence.
“I’m glad that thanks to the efforts of all of the officers involved on the night and the subsequent investigation, justice has now been served.”
DC Natasha Perkins, who was in charge of the investigation, said: “Elkerton entered the premises uninvited and stole cash from the elderly woman.
“It’s thanks to Sgt Gott we were able to arrest him so quickly after the offence and Elkerton has now been sentenced for his crime.”