A man has been jailed after he tried to sell nearly £50,000 worth of stolen GPS trackers on eBay – using his own name and address.
John Stewart appeared in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he admitted a series of charges of possessing pilfered agricultural global positioning system (GPS) trackers that had been stolen from farms and tractor dealerships.
But the 37-year-old advertised the stolen merchandise – valued at £49,689 – using his own personal online eBay account.
His solicitor told the court that Stewart was not running “a sophisticated enterprise”.
It was also revealed that Stewart was caught for these offences only a month after he had been released from prison for possessing an imitation handgun and ammunition.
eBay receipts revealed stolen trackers had been sold
Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson told the court that one GPS that had been stolen from a tractor dealership in Carlisle between May and December 2019 was sold on eBay by Stewart for around £700 in August of that year.
After being returned to its owner, it was established that its true value was £14,500.
During a subsequent examination of Stewart’s iPad, police found an email that outlined the sale of a GPS that had been stolen from an agricultural dealership in Haddington.
The total value of that item was £3,000 and it was not recovered.
Another two GPS trackers that had been stolen off tractors from Balwyllo Farm, near Montrose, were sold on eBay by Stewart with a combined value of £8,000.
The examination of Stewart’s iPad also led police to the sale of two hydraulic top links that had also been stolen from the agricultural dealership in Haddington.
Their value was £1,668 and they were unable to be recovered.
An additional GPS that had been stolen from Balwyllo Farm had been sold by Stewart for £2,065, but it was actually worth £3,500.
One witness managed to locate a GPS – valued at £15,000 – that had been stolen from his agricultural dealership and was being advertised by Stewart under his own personal eBay account.
A subsequent police search of Stewart’s home uncovered two further GPS devices that had been stolen from an agricultural hire firm in Kelty, Fife.
The value of those items was £4,021.
Stewart, a council worker, pleaded guilty to seven charges of possessing property knowingly acquired by theft or by robbery, fraud or embezzlement.
‘This wasn’t a particularly sophisticated enterprise’
His solicitor Lee Qumsieh told the court that Stewart had been “struggling financially” at the time of these offences.
“He came across these items being sold elsewhere on eBay and he recognised the prices they had sold for and saw a bargain, essentially,” Mr Qumsieh said.
“He was selling the items on eBay and was using his own name and his own address – this wasn’t a particularly sophisticated enterprise.
“It didn’t cross his mind at the time that this was criminal.”
However, Sheriff William Summers pointed out to Stewart that he had a “significant record for crimes of dishonesty”.
“At the time these offences were committed you had just been released from a High Court sentence.
“Put simply, I’m not convinced there’s any appropriate alternative to a prison sentence.”
Sheriff Summers sentenced Stewart, of Cook Street, Dysart, Kirkcaldy, to 18 months in prison.
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