False number plates for petrol theft

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A MAN caught with false number plates could have used them for petrol station drive-offs, Chesterfield magistrates heard.

Shain Hawkins, 33, who was a warehouse supervisor at a Road and Rally store, stole four blank number plates from work.

He then toured around looking for a similar car to his own and copied its registration number onto some of the plates.

Police stopped and searched his Vauxhall Astra on March 21 and found all four plates in the boot.

“He was asked where they had come from and he said he was short of money six weeks earlier and he decided to clone some number plates after a supplier sent four plates too many.

“He said he had never used the cloned plates and he had left them in the back of his car,” prosecutor Lynn Manning told the court.

Hawkins of Mercaston Close, Holme Hall, admitted theft and going equipped for theft with false number plates. He had previously been convicted of dishonesty and had served time in jail.

“You obviously didn’t fulfill your plan of using the number plates,” District Judge Andrew Davison told him.

Hawkins was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work, with £85 costs.

His solicitor, Bob Sowter, said: “He was desperate for cash and it was a stupid mistake which left him worse off because he lost his job. He had been working there for eight years.

“He took advantage of some surplus stock coming into the warehouse.”

The court heard that Hawkins used to have a heroin habit but he had been drug-free for eight years.