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Thief stole motorcycles after seeing online ads on Gumtree

The outside of Tain Sheriff court.
The case called at Tain Sheriff Court.

A motorcycle thief who targeted bikes advertised for sale online has been handed 200 hours of unpaid work.

Scott Murray was part of an operation raiding garages and sheds for motorcycles after their owners posted details on the internet.

The 24-year-old pled guilty to two charges of theft by opening a lockfast place at Tain Sheriff Court, but avoided jail and was instead ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Fiscal depute Pauline Gair told the court stole one bike from Gordon Terrace, Invergordon, in May 2019, and a second from the Balavil Estate, Kingussie, two months later in July.

She told the court: “The owner of a motorcycle placed an advert on Gumtree. The advertisement on Gumtree disclosed the exact location of the motorcycle although this was not by the intention of the seller.”

The court heard that shortly after the owner received an expression of interest in the motorcycle, which was advertised for sale at £4,900, it was stolen.

Motorbike stolen from garage

“The motorcycle was removed from the garage. The window of the garage had been forced and only the bike was taken.  Tracks from the bike were seen leaving the area then abruptly stopped,” Mrs Gair told the court.

The court then heard how another owner had placed an advert online for an off-road motorcycle worth £5,850 and had been contacted by someone interested in the bike.

“Someone corresponded by text message and got the locus where the bike was,” Mrs Gair told the court, adding that soon after, the motorcycle that had been stored in a locked shed was stolen overnight.

“The shed door was open, the padlock had been cut,” she said.

The court heard that subsequent inquiries led to Murray being traced and charged with the offences.

Solicitor Liam Mcallister, for Murray, called the thefts a “quite ridiculous operation” and pointed out that his client had not been acting alone.

Thief was not ‘brains’ of operation

He said Murray was “vulnerable” and had been “targeted by more sophisticated operators”.

“There were a number of other individuals that were probably the brains of the operation,” he said.

The court also heard that Murray, who now works with his father at a tyre fitting company, felt he had let down his family with his “shameful” behaviour.

“This type of offending is not in any way reflective of how Mr Murray was brought up,” Mr Mcallister said, adding: “Mr Murray has turned his back on the negative peers that led to this type of offending.”

Sheriff Gary Aitken placed Murray, of Forvie Gardens, Newburgh, on a community payback order and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work as a direct alternative to a custodial sentence.

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