A BUNGLING thief was riding for a fall after snatching a bike being used in a police operation to combat crime.
Serial offender Lee Halcrow saw the bike chained up on Victoria Road in South Shields and used a hacksaw to cut it free.
But he was caught because it was being used by police in an anti-theft campaign.
The 39-year-old, of Lord Nelson Street, South Shields, who has more than 100 previous convictions and was jailed in April for trying to steal phones from the South Tyneside Mayor’s official car, admitted the theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Magistrates handed him a 12-month conditional discharge after the court was told he is trying to “turn his life around” and is undergoing treatment for drug addiction.
Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, said: “The bicycle was issued to a police officer on June 25 and he rode it to Victoria Road, South Shields, and locked it up at about 12.50pm.
“It was taken and police stopped and arrested him.
“He admitted the offence and said he saw the bike and went to get a hacksaw to steal it. He had not been long released from his last custodial sentence.”
Victoria Oliver, defending, said; “A guilty plea has been entered at the first opportunity. It was not the most sophisticated offence by any means.
“Fortunately, it did not belong to a member of the public. It was being used in an operation set up by Northumbria Police.
“He was released from prison a few weeks ago and seems to have used his time in custody well.
“His record is horrific, there is no way to dress that up.
“It is a record of release, offend, custody, release, offend, custody. This was a stupid, opportunistic moment.
“He was not selling it for drugs. He was going to use it for his own personal use but accepts he may have attempted to sell it if money got tight. He is getting drug treatment.
“He is starting to turn his life around but it can take people more time to do this, particularly with a record like this.”