Caught by police: the thief who stole a parking meter to pay off debts
DESPERATE drug addict William Duff was caught stealing a council parking meter in an attempt to pay off his debts.
The 32-year-old was seen pushing the ticket machine in a supermarket trolley along the side of a road.
But police were called after a suspicious passer-by confronted him.
North Staffordshire magistrates heard the witness stopped and spoke to Duff.
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"He told him the police had been contacted and were on their way," said prosecutor Steve Knowles.
"He gave a full description of Duff."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council confirmed the ticket machine belonged to them and that it cost £1,200 to repair and reinstall.
When questioned by police, Duff said he owed money and the machine had been uneven and bent when he came across it on The Strand, Longton, on the evening of April 22. He said he pushed the meter over before chopping and hacking his way through it.
He then admitted using a shopping trolley to push the parking meter away in order to break it open and extract the cash.
It wasn't until several weeks later when a police officer recognised and arrested him.
Duff tested positive for heroin and failed to attend a follow-up assessment on May 14. And on May 28 he failed to provide a sample for a class A drugs test.
Duff, of Lightwood Road, Longton, pleaded guilty to theft, failing to answer bail, failing to attend a follow-up assessment, and refusing to provide a sample for a class A drugs test.
He was also in breach of a community order made on April 11 for possession of diazepam, failing to provide a sample for a drugs test and assault.
Gary Corbett, mitigating, said Duff committed the offences after relapsing into heroin use.
"He does still drink but he feels the further use of drugs is the main reason for these offences," said Mr Corbett.
He said Duff wanted to give up drugs, and added: "He needs to make significant changes."
Magistrates re-sentenced Duff to a new 12-month community order with supervision and a drug rehabilitation requirement.
They made no order for compensation to the city council but ordered Duff to pay £170 costs.
A spokesman for the council declined to comment.