A man who stole £59,000 of diggers and plant hire equipment in a hair-brained scheme to make some “quick cash” appeared in court.
James David Stewart made off with two JCB diggers, a mini digger, a dumper, six buckets, a trailer and a ratchet strap by targeting Fife plant hire companies and not returning the goods.
Some of the stolen equipment taken from FTM Plant Hire in Cupar, and Gardens Mowers and Tools Ltd in St Andrews was recovered from industrial sites and travellers camps.
However £21,000 of heavy machinery was never found, Dundee Sheriff Court heard.
Stewart’s defence agent could offer no location for the unrecovered property and said: “This was a foolish plan by Mr Stewart to obtain cash quickly that was thereafter spent on alcohol and gambling.”
The court heard how Stewart had hired items first from FTM Plant Hire and not returned them.
The owner had attempted to contact Stewart, but was fobbed off with excuses before Stewart simply stopped answering his phone.
When members of staff visited the address Stewart had provided when he rented the equipment they discovered he no longer lived there.
He later tried the same scheme at Gardens Mowers and Tools Ltd, however some of the items were fitted with tracking equipment.
Equipment was recovered from a Traveller site in Peterhead, and more was traced to an industrial site.
Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court the total cost of the stolen items was £59,000, although of that £21,000 of equipment has yet to be traced.
She said the owners of both companies had identified Stewart after he was traced by police.
James David Stewart, 23, of Adamson Avenue, Kirkcaldy, admitted two charges of theft.
He pled guilty to stealing a JCB digger and a dumper from FTM Plant Hire on the Cupar Trading Estate, between January 19, 2015 and February 12, 2015.
He also admitted stealing a JCB digger, a mini digger, six buckets, a trailer and a ratchet strap from Gardens Mowers and Tools Ltd in Largo Road, St Andrews between January 26, 2015 and February 2, 2015.
Sentence was deferred until April 11.