Two teenagers caught stealing thousands of pounds worth of manhole covers from a depot in Gainsborough have been jailed.
The pair were among a group of men disturbed after entering the Severn Trent Water Company depot in Lea Road.
Stuart Lody, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that the gang used bolt croppers to remove a padlock and then loaded 31 manhole covers into a 4X4 vehicle.
But they were interrupted when a Severn Trent lorry driver unexpectedly returned to the depot.
The group abandoned the 4X4 loaded with manhole covers and fled from the scene.
Jerry Smith, who lived nearby, and a 17 year old North Nottinghamshire man were arrested later after being identified from CCTV security footage which protected the site.
Smith, 18, of Lea Road, Gainsborough, was given six months at a young offenders’ institution after admitting theft of manhole covers worth £9,300 on 27th September 2011.
The 17 year old admitted the same charge and was given a six month detention and training order.
Judge Michael Heath told them: “Metal theft of this sort is a problem up and down the country and in particular in this county of Lincolnshire.”
“As far as this court is concerned anyone who lends himself to such an enterprise involving the theft of metal will lose his liberty.”
Stephen Grattage, defending, said Smith earned a living from horse trading and was from a well regarded travelling family.
He said the 17 year old had come under ‘the wrong influences’.
Mr Grattage said: “They said they would help when they were asked for their assistance. They do not habitually involve themselves in offences of this type.”