A St Andrews University student who had the only copy of his dissertation stolen managed to snare the thief - using an iPhone app to track his movements.
Robert Tolmie was today (Tuesday, November 10) told he faced jail over two thefts carried out on the same night in August.
He first broke into a Portakabin in Dundee’s Broughty Ferry Road owned by Azam Salimi and stole a £1400 road bike.
Tolmie then found a campervan parked on nearby St Roque’s Lane, which had been parked there by St Andrews students Ronnie Kim and Jakob Feigl who had gone to the city for a night out, returning to the van at 3am.
They discovered a “substantial” amount of property was missing from the vehicle.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court that they drove to St Andrews police station.
Mr Feigl, an Austrian national, then activated the “Find my iPhone” app and found it last been switched on at homeless accommodation in Dundee where Tolmie was staying.
Miss Robertson said police then watched CCTV footage which showed Tolmie, who has multiple previous convictions for theft and supplying drugs, arriving at the hostel with Mr Salimi’s bike.
She said: “His bedroom was searched and all of the least valuable items stolen during the two thefts were recovered.”
However, the bicycle and two iphones, valued at £760, a £1500 laptop and a hard drive from the campervan remain unrecovered.
“The monetary value of the hard drive is approximately £70 but its true value is obviously much higher given it contained the only copy of Mr Feigl’s dissertation,” Miss Robertson said.
“Of note is that when the accused checked in to the Dundee Survival Group earlier that day he had had a laptop and four mobile telephones in his possession.”
Tolmie (29), a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges of theft committed between August 1 and August 2.
Jim Caird, defending, said: “He is extremely sorry and remorseful about his behaviour and in particular the effect it may have had on the complainers.”
Sheriff Alistair Carmichael deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and remanded Tolmie in custody.