A METAL thief has received a suspended jail term - despite being caught red-handed sawing up copper piping by the police.
Officers acted on a tip-off after David Poulson, 35, was seen stealing from an empty house a few doors away from his home on Chapel Street, Thurnscoe.
Carl Fitch, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said three men were seen removing copper piping and officers found a ground floor window had been smashed. Floorboards had also been removed upstairs.
The copper was taken to Poulson's home and he was arrested there with another man as they broke up the piping.
Poulson told police he had entered through an insecure back door and they intended to break down the piping for scrap and weigh it in.
The property's landlord said it would cost him £6,000 to replace the damaged piping.
Poulson, who has a long record for dishonesty, admitted burglary.
He committed his first burglary at 16 and was given a suspended jail term in March 2012 for another copper piping theft in Goldthorpe.
Judge Sarah Wright told Poulson: "The total value was substantial and these offences cause gross inconvenience and loss to the house owners."
But she said she thought it was a "blip" in his successful attempt to get off heroin over the last two years.
Poulson was given a three-month jail term suspended for a year, 200 hours of unpaid community work and a three-month electronically tagged curfew.