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Arbroath ‘one-person crime wave’ brought trains to standstill, raided Pleasureland and stole from homes

Robert McPhee was jailed when he appeared for a range of crimes.

Robert McPhee. Image: Facebook
Robert McPhee. Image: Facebook

A “one-person crime wave” who raided homes, Pleasureland and brought Tayside trains to a halt before being tasered by police has been locked up.

Thieving Robert McPhee caused chaos on the tracks in Arbroath as he threw bricks at officers trying to arrest him for a string of break-ins.

A train came towards the rampant offender, who ran past it before eventually being apprehended.

During his summer spree in the town, McPhee:

  • Threatened to burn down the flat of a pregnant woman;
  • Ransacked a games machine at Pleasureland;
  • Rummaged around a woman’s home before she disturbed him;
  • Stole a hoard of items after two separate break-ins.
Arbroath railway station
McPhee caused chaos on the tracks near Arbroath railway station.

At Dundee Sheriff Court, Sheriff John MacRitchie said: “What I have before me is a one-person crime wave over a period of some two months in 2023.

“It beggars belief that anyone would put the public in such endangerment as to be on a railway line when there’s a train coming towards you, causing it to brake and closing the line down while throwing bricks and stones and having to be, quite rightly, tasered.

“It’s like something out of a movie.”

Railway chaos

The court heard how brazen McPhee, 35, returned to the scene of a former crime – a home occupied by two pensioners he had previously targeted.

On July 12 2023, the couple were watching a livestream of a wedding they were supposed to attend in Cyprus.

The couple had beefed up the security of their home on Parkview Gardens and thanks to a Ring doorbell, saw McPhee walking in their driveway.

Police units were dispatched and McPhee was seen running into a wooded area, clutching a stick, while threatening officers.

Prosecutor Joanne Ritchie said: “The accused scaled a six-foot fence and entered onto the railway line.

“Officers continued to follow but did not scale the fence.

“Due to the accused being on the railway line, Network Rail were contacted and it was requested that trains were stopped.

Scotrail train
Trains had to be stopped as McPhee rampaged in Arbroath. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

“The accused picked up a brick and threatened to assault officers should they approach him.

“He threw several bricks and stones but due to the distance, no officers were struck.”

McPhee ran past the side of a stopped train, which eventually made its way into Arbroath railway station.

Repeated instructions were given by officers for McPhee to drop the brick and stay still but he refused and was eventually tasered in the back.

The first shot missed but McPhee spasmed and fell into a bush after being struck with the second shot.

Pleasureland raid

Earlier that day, a woman was lying in bed at around 5am when she heard a crash in the kitchen of her home on Grange Place.

She initially thought it was her cat but the pet was lying on her bed.

The woman was “startled” by McPhee, who quickly made off after rummaging through drawers, removing alcohol and a docking station.

McPhee had previously threatened, while brandishing a brick, to set fire to the home of a woman who was seven months pregnant on Clova Avenue on July 5.

He had accused the woman of being a drug-dealer and said he was owed money by a woman named Michelle.

On June 3, CCTV captured McPhee entering a side door at Pleasureland on Queens Drive, switching off a gaming machine and stealing £200 from the cash box within.

General view of the outside of Pleasureland in Arbroath
McPhee raided Pleasureland in Arbroath. Image: Google.

The thief broke into a property on Cairnie Crescent between June 4 and 5 and stole clothing, a mobile phone, aftershave, a TV, a wallet, car keys, alcohol and a vase.

At an address on The Meadows, McPhee made off with a Rangers top, collectible pins, a camera and wrist watches after completely smashing the patio door of the property on June 6.

Broken glass was found throughout the home and McPhee was again identified via Ring doorbell footage.


McPhee pled guilty to seven charges – breaking into two properties, forcing open a games machine, threatening the pregnant woman, entering another and being found outside a fourth illegally and breaching the peace on the railway line.

Solicitor Jim Caird said McPhee, now a prisoner of HMP Perth, had taken “full responsibility” for the crimes and said his client expected a jail term after pleading guilty at the first available opportunity.

McPhee was sentenced to a total of 34 months in prison.

He must also serve 45 days of a previously unexpired jail term.

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