A thief was caught after he offered to sell his loot back to the victim.
The shocked mechanic was asked in a phone call if he would be interested in buying a car diagnostic kit, just hours after discovering his lock-up garage had been targeted.
He asked for specific details of the equipment and it soon became clear he was being asked to purchase his own property.
Police were contacted and inquiries quickly led them to the thief, Lee Mathieson (25) of Kettlebridge .
He had gone on a crime spree in rural Fife, claiming his aim was to pay for his dad’s funeral.
Mathieson admitted the offences, which all took place in 2015.
On September 1 at Langside Road, Kennoway, he stole two handbags, a multi-tool and a strimmer.
The next day he stole £500 from an ATM in Cupar.
On September 8 or 9 he broke into a house in Kingskettle, and stole a computer and television.
Mathieson then entered an adjacent lock-up garage where he stole a Hyundai car and a laptop with a combined value of £20,000. Also taken were a polisher valued at £300, a £100 nail-gun and the diagnostic kit.
The next target was a plant hire company in Kettlebridge where a laptop computer valued at £1600 was taken after a portable cabin was broken into with a crow-bar.
At 4.35pm the same day, police received a call regarding the stolen car which had been left in a remote lay-by near Kennoway. The front passenger’s side window had been smashed and the strimmer was found in the car.
The same day the man who had items stolen from the lock-up received a phone call about a car he was advertising for sale.
As they talked, the caller asked the man if he was a mechanic and when he confirmed he was, he was asked if he would be interested in buying a car diagnostic kit. The caller gave his name as Danny Mathieson, of Methil.
The information was passed on to the police and when they went to the home of Danny Mathieson – brother of Lee – with a warrant, he gave them one of the stolen laptops, the diagnostic kit and the nail-gun.
Lee Mathieson was identified from CCTV video from Henderson’s yard and when detained made full admissions.
Defence solicitor Sarah Meehan said the offences took place “during a particularly difficult period of his life following his father’s death”.
She added, “He was worried about the cost of arranging his father’s funeral. He planned to sell these items to pay for the funeral.
“He has expressed great remorse and described his actions as disgusting.”
Sheriff Charles MacNair jailed Mathieson for 20 months.