Gardai described a high-powered car chase when they arrested two men and a teenager after a gang of four abandoned a vehicle.
The fourth man swam a river to escape into Northern Ireland, Judge Kevin Kilrane was told at Ballyshannon District Court.
He heard that, during two burglaries in neighbouring villages Laghey and Ballintra, an alert member of the public reported suspicions to his local garda and the Regional Support Unit was alerted and responded within minutes.
Garda Ciaran O’Brien told the judge that the unit spotted a car which failed to stop and there was a high-powered pursuit.
He said: “The pursuit went towards the Cliff power station outside Ballyshannon when four men abandoned the car and got out. One man managed to swim the river and escape into the North. Three others ran into fields and one of them was apprehended at the scene.”
The judge heard two others were arrested the following morning, one a juvenile and one who was before the court, Patrick Wall.
Wall, 26, of Blessington Rd, Tallaght, admitted burglaries of €650 cash and €200 jewellery in one house, and a wedding ring and engagement ring worth a total of €3,000 in another. The stolen property belonged to Angela Boylan in Main Street, Ballintra, and John Gallagher in Carrick West, Laghey.
The court heard that just €650 was recovered.
Wall had 25 previous convictions and had spent most of his adult life behind bars. He was unlawfully at large from Shelton Abbey Open Prison.
Defence solicitor Gerry McGovern said: “He co-operated with gardai 90 per cent of the way but he was afraid to name accomplices.”
Judge Kilrane imposed a 10 months prison sentence. He also imposed a 10-year driving ban because a car was used in the raids on September 7.
He said: “He was part of a gang visiting rural Ireland and committing acts of burglary in aggravating circumstances in houses of ordinary, decent people, with all the trouble and all of the heartache that goes with that.”
The judge added: “He was caught red-handed.”
Earlier, Edward Connors, 39, of Ashmore Avenue, Naas, was also accused of the Laghey and Ballintra burglaries. His case was adjourned to October 21 and he was remanded on continuing bail when his defence solicitor, Mr McGovern, asked for prosecutions statements.