Thief caught during routine police check

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A RETFORD man scouring the Derbyshire hills for scrap metal was netted during a police vehicle check.

A Ford Transit van was stopped at Brough, near Castleton, on the afternoon of 16th February after its registration flagged up an alert on a patrol vehicle’s computer.

Officers searched the van and found a wood chipping machine in the back. Passenger Ian McLeish claimed it had been used during tree work and had been there all day.

Police became suspicious when they saw it was leaking oil and McLeish then claimed he had been given permission to take it, Chesterfield magistrates heard. weds

He was arrested and made a full admission and the £250 machine was handed back to its owner, said Helen Griffiths, prosecuting.

McLeish, 56, who lives in Bridgegate, Retford, admitted theft. He had previous convictions for dishonesty.

The justices told him that this type of offence was increasing because scrap metal values were “on the up”. He was given an 8pm-6am curfew for two months, with £85 costs.

“He was in a van being driven by his brother-in-law. They thought they saw some scrap in a field and it turned out to be a wood chipper,” said Kevin Tomlinson, for McLeish, who receives incapacity benefit.

“He says he went to a farmhouse to ask if it was wanted but there was no-one in and, believing it was scrap, he took it. Police stopped the vehicle a mile away.”