A man was going through a “breakdown” when he broke into Inverness pubs to steal alcohol, a court has heard.
Ruaridh Merchison was caught on CCTV climbing in through a window and helping himself to drink at Dows Bar.
After he set off an alarm while breaking into The Three Witches, a police dog was deployed and the thief was caught.
After being detained he gave officers false details, before eventually admitting who he was.
Merchison, 29, appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court for sentencing having previously admitted four charges of theft by housebreaking and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Fiscal depute Grant McLennan told the court the first offence, on July 2 last year at Dows Bar on Balloan Road, was caught on CCTV.
Bottle thief climbed in bar window
“He was observed to climb through one of the windows and go behind the bar, where he took approximately five bottles of alcohol,” he said, adding that the value of the stolen drink on this occasion was around £130.
Merchison returned to Dows on July 20 and August 11 and was again caught on CCTV taking alcohol from behind the bar.
On August 11 he also targeted The Three Witches on Aignish Drive, Inverness, setting off an alarm that alerted a member of staff.
“The witness was woken by an alarm sounding within the restaurant and went downstairs,” the fiscal depute told Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald.
The worker found that the door to the pub had been broken into and police were called.
Soon after officers spotted Merchison cycling on the pavement of Sir Walter Scott Drive.
“The accused came off the bicycle and fled on foot,” Mr McLennan said.
‘You went through a couple of months doing absolutely crazy things’
A police dog was brought in and Merchison traced lying on a path behind a bush, with a bottle of sloe gin in his possession.
He was arrested and taken to the police station, where he initially gave officers false details but later admitted his true identity.
Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald told Merchison, who opted to appear without legal representation, that all the necessary information for sentencing was contained in the criminal justice social work report.
She said: “Basically, you’re 29-years-old. You have never been in trouble before, you went through a period of a couple of months doing absolutely crazy things. This was, quite clearly, a breakdown.”
The sheriff said that, nevertheless, his actions had caused “upset and concern” to other people.
Sentencing Merchison, of Wester Inshes Gardens, Sheriff MacDonald told him: “You do these things, you will eventually get caught.”
As an alternative to a prison sentence, she placed him on a community payback order with a year’s supervision and a requirement to complete 100 hours of unpaid work in the community.