A THIEF who raided the homes of rich students and used the designer goods he stole as stock for his online shop was today spared jail.
Robert Watson carried out a series of raids on St Andrews students that saw him steal £17,000 worth of jewellery, designer clothes and top-brand electronics.
The father-of-six then took the loot back to his flat in Dundee where he and his partner listed them on online selling sites.
The con was only discovered when one of his victims spotted her gear listed on eBay and called in police.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court that Watson raided five properties and was caught selling items from a sixth that had been hit.
She said: “The thefts took place between September 27, and October 9.
“On October 11, witness Louisa Dodge said she found items that had been stolen were on eBay and Gumtree.
“It was discovered the seller appeared to be the accused’s partner who lived with him.
“Items such as Versace sunglasses and Beats headphones were seen to be listed.
“A search found items of jewellery that had been stolen in their property.
“Internet searches on their devices found they had looked up values of items that had been stolen.
“Other items stolen include a vintage Chanel handbag left to one of the complainers by a grandparent, and a Barbour jacket.
“There was also a pouch containing vintage coins that had been written on by the complainer’s late father that were recovered.”
Watson, 57, of Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to five charges of theft and one of reset.
Defence solicitor Anne Duffy said: “It is some ten years since his last conviction for an offence of dishonesty.
“Until recently he and his partner were running an upholstery and furniture business but that was struggling at the time of these offences.
“He woke up one day and had no money for nappies for his two-year-old child.
“He then committed this series of offences.
“He initially made no comment to police but then asked to speak to them again and made full admissions, not least to protect his partner.”
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael imposed a community payback order with 150 hours unpaid work and two years supervision.
Watson was also placed on a restriction of liberty order confining him to his home address on an electronic tag for the next six months.