A heartless thief was today (Monday) ordered to help police fish a bag full of stolen medals from a river before he is handed a lengthy jail sentence for a string of “contemptible” break-ins.
Ronald McKay broke into Dundee and Angus College and stole a haul of irreplaceable medallions that had been put on display at the institution after being loaned by an 80-year-old woman awarded them for her efforts in twinning Dundee with the city of Orleans in France.
McKay realised if he was found with them he’d instantly be linked to the crime - so put them in a weighted bag and threw them in to the River Tay to dispose of them.
He also stole almost £2600 worth of college staff’s Christmas savings and over £600 being kept on behalf of a group of exchange students in a carefully planned crime.
He then went on to break in to an elderly couple’s home and stole a £6000 haul of jewellery - including a watch given to the 79-year-old husband for his 21st birthday that has never been found.
McKay was finally caught when he walked into Carnoustie Leisure Centre and smashed open a locker in the changing room - stealing a mobile phone and a car key for a Renault Scenic.
He then made off in the Renault Scenic - but was spotted by police, sparking a high-speed chase that only ended when McKay careered into the side of a house, writing off the car and damaging a wall.
Fiscal depute John Adams told Dundee Sheriff Court: “During the incident at the college a minibus had been stolen, driven around Dundee for two hours then dropped off back at the college.
“An investigation found a large quantity of property, including medallions loaned to the college for an exhibition by Evelyn Hood, age 80, who had been awarded them for her efforts in the twinning of Dundee and Orleans, France.
“On October 2 neighbours of an elderly couple who had gone on holiday from their home in Perthshire noticed the accused leaving carrying a bag.
“When the couple returned home they found a basement window had been propped open and their bedroom had been ransacked.
“Rings, jewels, commemorative coins, £120 cash, watches, bracelets and necklaces had been stolen.
“None were recovered.
“The watches included one given to the 79-year-old male occupant for his 21st birthday and was of great sentimental value.
“In the final incident the accused went to the leisure centre and asked the receptionist to enter as a spectator.
“He went in to the changing rooms and exited ten minutes later having broken into a locker and stolen a mobile phone and a car key.
“He use the car key to take the car, which he was seen driving shortly thereafter in Broughty Ferry.
“Police activated their lights and sirens but he drove off at speed, crossing a junction without stopping.
“He then lost control and crashed into the side of a house.
“The stolen mobile phone was later found smashed at the side of the road in Monifieth, while the car was written off by the owner’s insurers.”
McKay, 38, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to charges of housebreaking, theft and careless driving committed between September 17 and October 4.
Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith was asked to tell the court what McKay had done with the stolen goods.
He said: “Regarding the items of more intrinsic value they were placed in a weighted holdall and thrown in to the River Tay.
“They were readily identifiable as having come from the college.
“He is willing to take the police to exactly where the property was disposed of near the Tay Road Bridge.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month and remanded McKay in custody meantime.
He said: “That’s in order for you to provide police with information they can use in order to recover the property from these quite contemptible housebreakings.”