An organised gang of thieves has been targeting affluent areas of Aberdeen before making off with bikes worth thousands of pounds, a court has heard.
Young men are stealing dozens of pushbikes from across Aberdeen city centre targeting the west end and car parks outside shops and offices.
One bike was taken from outside Aberdeen Royal Children’s Hospital.
One member of the gang, Thomas MacDonald, 20, narrowly avoided being locked up this week when he appeared at the city’s sheriff court and admitted stealing four bikes worth almost £4,500.
The 20-year-old also admitted trying to steal a cycle from outside a house in the upmarket Queens Road area of the city.
The court heard the former butcher had lost his job after the shop he worked for closed.
When he found himself unable to make cash he was approached by some people he knew and was asked if he wanted to make “easy money” stealing the bikes.
Defence agent Graeme Murray said his client was deliberately targeting well off areas in the city as the gang knew these bikes would be worth more money.
He said those involved in the thefts would give their haul to one man who would then sell them on.
Mr Murray said when MacDonald was caught and arrested in connection with the thefts, which occurred between October and December last year, he co-operated fully and even helped put the police in touch with the man who was selling them on.
Sentencing MacDonald, who the court heard has been offending since he was 14, Sheriff Graham Buchanan said he was concerned about the amount of people he had seen in court over recent months on similar charges.
He said: “It has to be said I have noticed in court in recent months there seems to be rather too much of this going on involving theft of bicycles. It seems to be some sort of business and the court has to take that very seriously.”
He recognised that MacDonald had taken steps to improve his life and had helped police with their inquiries.
He ordered MacDonald, of 68 Duff Street, Macduff, to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work within the next nine months.
He was also placed under supervision for a year.