TWO scrap dealers who stole boilers from South Tyneside houses in the process of being demolished have been given community orders.
Arron Straughair, 23, and Scott White, 31, were caught on CCTV taking two boilers from Reyrolle Court in Hebburn, which is owned by South Tyneside Council, and driving off.
Police caught up with them in nearby Glen Street and found the scrap in the back of their van.
They pleaded guilty to theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court earlier this month, and the case was adjourned for the probation service to prepare reports.
The reports confirmed that Straughair, of Brick Court, Houghton-le-Spring and White, of Potter Square, Sunderland, had been convicted of similar crimes previously.
When they returned to court, Straughair and White, were each given 12-month community orders with supervision and ordered to pay £85 costs, with a £60 victim surcharge.
Straughair was also ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.
Chairwoman of the bench, Dr Theresa Waring, said: “We take a very serious view of this.
“While you aren’t heavily convicted, there appears to be a pattern of behaviour emerging, which needs to stop.”
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “When their van was pulled over, there were two boilers that were taken from the site in the back of the van.
“They were both arrested and Straughair told the officers that he was a self-employed metal dealer.
“These might not be very high-value thefts, but I’d ask you to take into account the wider problem of metal thefts, and how much it costs councils, businesses and the general public.”
Neil Hodgson, defending, told the court that both defendants are registered scrap metal collectors.
He added: “They have been to the site before and been allowed to take scrap after asking the contractors working on the demolition.
“This time there was no one there, so they couldn’t do that.
“If they went back the next day this wouldn’t have happened, but it was a Sunday and it was empty.
“They have certainly learned their lesson and want to find other avenues of work.
“But it will not be easy; White cannot read or write and Straughair has no formal qualifications.”