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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Woman faces jail over gnome theft
Garden gnomes
Police found an "Aladdin's cave" of ornaments
A woman is facing jail after running a racket "kidnapping" garden gnomes.

A court heard Karen Stenhouse took gnomes, flower pots and garden ornaments worth more than 700 from gardens over a 20 mile radius.

She sold them on through car boot sales to boost her dole money. The thefts happened over three weeks in 2005.

On Tuesday, Stenhouse, of The Braes, Tullibody, admitted six charges of stealing ornaments in Alva, Tullibody, Stirling and Bridge of Allan.

Alloa Sheriff Court heard that the mother-of-three was arrested along with friend Ann McCallum, of Delphwood Crescent, also Tullibody, following an 11-day undercover operation involving officers from both Central Scotland CID and the force's tactical crime unit.

This was a significant achievement made by officers who had been investigating a number of reported thefts across the Central Scotland Police force area over the summer of 2005
Det Con Roy Lake

The court was told that officers found an "Aladdin's cave" of garden ornaments including a grotto of 30 gnomes as well as dozens of ornamental rabbits, birds and hedgehogs.

A total of 132 garden ornaments were recovered but only a handful were reunited with their rightful owners.

Both Stenhouse and Ms McCallum were originally charged with 42 separate offences of theft.

Ms McCallum said nothing in response to police questioning and her pleas of not guilty were accepted.

The offences were committed between 24 July and 16 August 2005.

Unsuspecting shoppers

Sheriff William Gilchrist deferred sentence for a social background report and an assessment of Stenhouse's suitability to perform community service as a direct alternative to jail.

Police believe that the gnomes were sold on to unsuspecting shoppers at markets across Scotland.

Both Stenhouse and Ms McCallum were due to stand trial last year but failed to turn up at Alloa Sheriff Court leading to the issue of warrants for their arrest.

Reporting officer in the case, Det Con Roy Lake, said: "This was a significant achievement made by officers who had been investigating a number of reported thefts across the Central Scotland Police force area over the summer of 2005."


SEE ALSO
Police find missing gnomes cache
24 Aug 05 |  Scotland

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