Avon and Somerset Police in Bath are appealing for information to identify two young men who were disturbed trying to burgle a house in Bailbrook Lane.
A neighbour, a 74-year-old man working in his garden, heard the sound of someone trying to force a back door.
He challenged the men and one of them punched him, cutting his ear. An ambulance was called and he was treated at the scene.
The would-be burglars ran off in the direction of the London Road and disappeared.
It happened just after midday on Tuesday 4th February.
The man who punched the 74-year-old is described as white, in his early 20s, 6ft tall, of thin build and with short fair hair.
He was wearing a dark long-sleeved T-shirt and dark tracksuit bottoms.
The second man is younger, about 5ft 10ins tall, wearing a dark wooly hat and dark trainers.
Anyone who can help is asked to call 101 quoting crime reference number 12005/14.