Three would-be thieves from Creswell were caught red-handed with stolen copper wiring outside an electricity substation in Edwinstowe.
Andrew Derrick Harding, 38, of Franklin Avenue, and Charles Airdire Neeve, 48, and Timothy Ronald Bennet, 43, of Baker Street, all admitted theft when they appeared before magistrates in Mansfield on Wednesday. Bennet also admitted possession of a folding pocket knife.
Police found the trio standing around by silver Ford Mondeo near the sub station on Ollerton Road on July 17 following a tip-off from the public.
Copper wiring worth £450 belonging to Western Power Distribution was found in the boot .
Ruth Snodin, prosecuting, said: “In interview Mr Neeve said he overheard a conversation about a transformer that had been stripped down and hidden in the woods nearby.
“They decided to go and find it and weigh it in for scrap.”
The court heard Bennet’s last conviction was for handling stolen goods in October 2015, Harding had previous convictions for Class A drug offences and Neeve had one conviction for ABH.
Sarah Neale, mitigating for Neeve and Harding, said: “Mr Neeve told Mr Bennet, who he lives with and who supports him, about the wiring.
“Mr Harding became involved as he was the driver of the vehicle.
“They didn’t take the wiring, they found it in the woods.”
She said Neeve had been in the army for 15 years and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder which makes him anxious in unfamiliar situations and prevented him from making a benefits application.
Deborah Bell, for Bennet, said he had carried the knife on a chain for years and didn’t realise it was an offence to carry it.
She said he had run a haulage firm until he broke his back in an accident 17 years ago, which led to the loss of the business and the end of a relationship. He suffers from a degenerative condition which will eventually paralyse him.
“It was a venture designed to supplement his income but that didn’t work out,” she said.
All three were fined £80 each and ordered to pay costs of £85 and victim surcharges of £30.
Bennet was also fined £120 for possession of the knife.