A Perth restaurant raider nabbed by police, who followed a trail of dropped coins, has been given one last chance to stay out of jail.
Bungling thief Christopher Anderson was caught on CCTV smashing a till and stealing drink from Willows coffee shop.
When he was traced nearby, he told officers: “I just had a drink and pinched a munchie.”
It was the fourth time the popular St John’s Place establishment has been raided within an 18-month period.
Earlier this week, Richard Jordan admitted trying to break into the restaurant using a bench.
Anderson, 36, appeared at Perth Sheriff Court on Thursday, having previously admitted the break-in on September 15 2021.
Sheriff Gillian Wade last month told him custody was at the forefront of her mind.
But in a report prepared for the court, social workers warned prison would be a “massive setback” for Anderson.
“I consider this a very difficult decision, because quite frankly the easiest thing for me to do is give you a custodial sentence,” Sheriff Wade told him.
“But I am told in no uncertain terms that you are making significant progress and for me to do that would be a retrograde step.”
She said: “I have to take account of what the experts are saying, otherwise there would be no point getting these reports.”
The court heard Anderson, of St Catherine’s Square, is working through 100 hours of unpaid work in relation to a previous conviction.
Sheriff Wade said: “I need to see this work being done, because if there is no alternative to custody, then custody it is.
“There may be, by a margin, an alternative disposal here but I need to see all the unpaid work done by the time you come back before me – and there will be no other excuses.”
Sentence was deferred until July 26.
Exasperated Willows bosses joked about installing “armed security” after Anderson’s break-in.
Owner Michael White called police as he watched a live feed of the thief rooting through his establishment.
He told us: “The last two years have been difficult enough for the hospitality industry without incidents like this.
“We’d like to thank the police for their swift response.”
Caught hiding outside
Fiscal depute Michael Sweeney said Mr White received a notification on his phone the CCTV in his premises had been activated.
“It was about 10.50pm.
“Mr White watched a live feed from the restaurant on his phone.
“He saw the accused smashing a cash register on the ground.
“The accused was seen gathering the cash and putting it into his pockets.”
Several police officers went to the scene and spoke to a witness, who saw Anderson leaving.
Mr Sweeney said: “Police officers discovered a trail of coins on the ground in the alleyway at the side of the building.
“They followed that trail and found the accused, who was hiding behind a parked car.”
Anderson was arrested and told police: “I did not do it.”
He later said to them: “I just had a drink and pinched a munchie.”
Anderson caused about £200 of damage and stole around £124 from the till.