Thief’s disastrous van raid ended behind bars


Stealing expensive items from an unlocked van proved to be a disastrous move for the thief, who was spotted in the act by someone who knew him.

The crook’s identity was quickly passed on to the Fife van owner who was soon phoning Lee McLaren to demand the property back.

On his way to hand back the stolen goods, McLaren was caught red-handed by the police. A drugs search at the police station then led to another charge.

Lee McLaren (39), currently a prisoner, appeared from custody at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

He admitted that on 11th February at New Flockhouse, Lochore, he entered an insecure motor vehicle and stole a quantity of power tools and a satellite navigation system.

He also admitted that on 12th February at Kirkcaldy police station he was in possession of a controlled drug, diamorphine, with intent to supply.

Depute fiscal Alex Piper said the vehicle was parked outside the owner’s home and had been left unlocked by mistake.

At around 6am a neighbour of the van owner saw McLaren going into the vehicle.

He recognised him and sent a text message to the van owner to tell him what he had seen.

When the man saw the text message later, he checked his vehicle and saw there were items missing.

He contacted the police but also obtained the culprit’s phone number and called him.

“The accused said he would return the property as he did not know it was his van,” added the depute.

McLaren was on his way to hand back the stolen loot when he spotted the police had arrived at the scene of the crime.

Police officers stopped him as he walked towards the house with the stolen power tools in a bag. He said he had “stashed” the navigation system but all the goods, valued at £489, were eventually recovered.

McLaren told officers he had stolen the items because they were “available and on show”.

McLaren got into further trouble after being taken to the police station. Officers became suspicious of his behaviour in a cell and believed he may be concealing drugs.

During a search, a Kinder egg fell to the floor and was found to contain heroin with a value of £1900.

Sheriff Charles MacNair called for reports and McLaren will remain in custody until he is sentenced on 2nd May.

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