Kirkcaldy man faces jail after stealing JCB equipment worth £60k

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A Kirkcaldy thief who stole two diggers worth almost £60,000 - then blew the proceeds on booze and gambling - was today facing jail.

James Stewart (23) hired three JCB machines from stores in Cupar and St Andrews in January last year.

But he didn’t give them back - fobbing off the owners off with excuses before ignoring their calls.

Police were called in and were able to track one of the diggers to a travellers’ site in Aberdeenshire and another to an industrial estate in Kirkcaldy.

The third - valued at £21,000 - has never been found.

Now Stewart, of Adamson Avenue, faces a jail term after admitting two charges of theft at Dundee Sheriff Court.

His lawyer told the court the theft had been a “foolish plan to make money” and that he’d spent the cash on alcohol and gambling.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the court: “On January 19, 2015, the accused attended at FTM Plant Hire in Cupar and rented a JCB digger and dumper for a week at a cost of £250.

“Upon completion of the hired week the items of machinery were not returned.

“The owner attempted to contact the accused on numerous occasions by telephone.

“He spoke to the accused on the phone several times, however, the accused kept giving excuses and eventually stopped answering the phone.

“The owner had a member of staff attend at the address the accused had provided when renting the machinery, but the member of staff was informed he no longer resided there.

“These items have never been recovered and their value is £21,000.

The court heard that on January 26, 2015, the accused attended at Gardens, Mowers and Tools Ltd in St Andrews and rented a mini digger for a period of one week at a cost of £280.

He returned on 29 January 2015 and rented a further JCB digger, six buckets, a trailer and a ratchet strap for a period of one week at a cost of £250.”

The fiscal depute added: “At the end of the period, the accused failed to return the machinery and the police were contacted.

“The total value of the hired items from Gardens, Mowers and Tools was £38,000.

“Using the tracking devices fixed to the JCBs, the items were recovered by police, with the assistance of the owner.

“One JCB was found at a traveller’s site in Maud, near Peterhead and the other in an industrial estate in Kirkcaldy.

“The only items not recovered were two JCB buckets with a value of around £430.

She continued: “A CCTV review was carried out at Gardens, Mowers and Tools Ltd, and the accused was identified as the person in the footage by police officers who had had previous dealings with the accused.

“On 24 February 2016, the owners of both companies attended an identity parade and identified the accused.

“The total value of the stolen items was £59,000, with £21,430 of that being uncovered.”

Sheriff Tom Hughes deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports.