TWO ventilation engineers stole six air vents worth £2,400 while working on a block of flats.

Andrew Cleworth, aged 42, and Andrew Nelson, aged 41, both from Horwich, said they took the property to cover what they were owed in wages.

Their lawyer Paul Hale told Manchester City Magistrates Court: “What they did was born out of panic and not greed.”

But the court warned the men it was a very serious matter and they had considered custody.

Instead Cleworth, of Heather Close, and Nelson, of Chorley New Road, each received three-month sentences suspended for a year.

They were also given a six-month curfew keeping them indoors between 9pm and 6am. Both pleaded guilty to theft.

Prosecutor Richard Blackburn said the men had been captured on CCTV leaving the site in Manchester with the vents on February 14.

Afterwards Cleworth had put four of the vents on EBay for £250. All the property has been recovered.

In court Cleworth said “I am very sorry. It was a poor judgement and was done in the heat of the moment.”

Both were ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £80 surcharge.