The 55-year-old woman, who wanted to be identified only by her first name, Anita, told WTFX-TV, Philadelphia, she saw the young man coming through a window of her home in Wilmington.
She started wielding the cane after she "saw him put his foot in, his butt in, ... his arm in, his face in."
"My dad told me a long time ago, if the Bible don't get you, the cane will get you," Anita said.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the man was involved in the theft of a television from another house in the same neighborhood. Someone saw two young men carrying a large television down the street, but they apparently set it down and it was recovered.
Anita has a tube in her throat and moves and speaks with difficulty.