Thieves are foiled by lunch hour bad timing

PUBLISHED: 11:46 29 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:04 04 May 2010

BUNGLING thieves who stole copper pipe work from an empty pub planned to sell it to a local scrap merchant - but arrived at the yard during the lunch hour, and had to sit outside and wait for the gates to reopen. And as they waited, police officers arrive

BUNGLING thieves who stole copper pipe work from an empty pub planned to sell it to a local scrap merchant - but arrived at the yard during the lunch hour, and had to sit outside and wait for the gates to reopen.

And as they waited, police officers arrived and found the stolen metal in the back of their van.

The van was immediately seized, and has since been put into a crusher, Ely magistrates were told this week.

"We know how prolific and troublesome metal theft has been in East Anglia," said prosecutor Matthew Bradbury.

"This was a minor theft, but such theft creates an enormous cost to the public, and the knock on to the insurance industry will be reflected in everyone's premiums."

The pipe work was stolen from the boarded up King's Head pub in Dullingham on October 16, he said. A witness saw two men carrying armfuls of copper to a red van.

The van was later found outside WE Knappett's scrap yard at Fordham Road, Snailwell, and the occupants arrested.

James King, 25, of Salisbury Court, Haverhill, told police he had got into the pub through a skylight.

His accomplice, Adam Page, 28, of Fallowfield Court, Haverhill, had helped to load the stolen pipes into the van. The men had planned to split the proceeds from selling the scrap.

King, who admitted burglary, told the court: "I did it for money, for Christmas. I am sorry, and won't do it again."

Page, who admitted aiding and abetting King, said: "It was a stupid thing to do. I was desperate, I was paying out more than I was earning."

Both men were ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £100 compensation and £50 costs.

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