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Tracking devices led police to stolen excavators, court hears

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Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

AN EX-SOLDIER accused of stealing two excavators was arrested after cops tracked the industrial vehicles being moved to his home address less than half an hour after they were stolen, a court heard on Saturday.

Philip Harris (32), a former British soldier who served in Iraq, appeared at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast charged with the theft of two Hitachi diggers last week with a combined value of £24,000.

Cops told the court the excavators were taken from an address on Manse Road near Saintfield, Co Down, shortly after 8.30pm on March 10.

Both machines were fitted with tracking devices and police were able to establish their last known location at the defendant’s home address on Newcastle Road, Ballynahinch. Officers attended the address within 24 hours thanks to the tracking devices and located one of the diggers secreted in shrub land 200 yards from his home.

Data from the tracker installed on the digger showed it arriving at the location adjacent Harris’ home address 25 minutes after being stolen.

Investigators told the court when police arrived to conduct searches at the address Harris attempted to dispose of his mobile phone by throwing it out of a window but the device was later recovered.

No plea was entered and Harris was granted bail. He is due to reappear at Newtownards Magistrates Court on April 20.

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