TWO Whitwell men embarked on a doomed raid when they filled a small hatchback with 250kg of stolen coal.
The Peugeot 106 was so heavily weighed down it was a sitting duck for police on the look-out for thieves, a court heard.
Officers stopped the car in Williamthorpe Road, North Wingfield, on 8th October and seized bags of coal worth £120.
They had received a tip-off that some men were breaking into a plastic storage unit outside a nearby Co-Op filling station.
Police took the ignition keys from driver Glynn Fores who, worried about the weight inside the car, asked them not to drive it onto a ramp.
“He said he left Whitwell in the early hours and drove around the area intending to steal something. Richard Lewis was in the passenger seat.
“They broke the lock off a container with a crowbar and loaded the vehicle with coal but it was so heavy they hadn’t got very far before police caught them,” Helen Griffiths, prosecuting, told Chesterfield magistrates.
She added: “Further information came to light about an identical crime at another Co-Op filling station in Duckmanton. They said they had dumped the coal from there, hoping to return it for it later, but they were arrested.”
Fores, 40, and Lewis, 44, both of Holmefield Road, Whitwell, admitted theft and asked for a similar offence to be considered. Sentence was adjourned for probation service reports.
The court heard that Fores had a string of previous convictions for dishonesty while Lewis had been convicted of theft from a dwelling.
“They are neighbours and it was getting cold and neither had any coal. They took a quarter of a ton of coal and the car couldn’t get very far,” said Jon Barber, for the pair.
“It wasn’t particularly sophisticated or intelligent. They were likely to be seen putting endless bags of coal into the car, driving while the floor was almost touching the ground, or unloading it.”
Mr Barber said they were on benefit and they stole coal to save them buying it rather than to sell on.=