A PROLIFIC thief has been sentenced to a community order for six months after he was caught rummaging in a van.

Bolton magistrates heard how John Galway, the owner of a Vaxuhall Vivaro van was at a friend’s house in Strawberry Hill Road, Bolton on February 18 with the vehicle parked outside.

At 1.30am he heard the locking mechanism for the van working and looked out of the window to see a man inside the cab searching the dashboard area.

Shazia Aslam, prosecuting, said: “The interior light was on so the defendant was clearly visible.

After rooting around the compartments for several minutes the man, later identified as Justin Adamson, left the vehicle empty handed and walked off.

He was arrested a short distance away by police.

He pleaded guilty to interfering with a vehicle and magistrates were told that he has convictions for 58 previous theft offences.

Rahil Khan, defending, said 41-year-old Adamson had been walking past the van on his way to the 24 hour Asda when he heard a clicking noise.

“He goes to investigate. He does not cause any damage to the vehicle,” he said.

“He has to concede that if there had been anything worthwhile taking he may have taken it.”

At the time Adamson, of Mere Gardens, Bolton, was subject to a suspended prison sentence for burglary and was homeless.

“He regrets his conduct. It was a spontaneous action on his part when the opportunity presented itself,” said Mr Khan.

Adamson was said to suffer from anxiety and depression as well as PTSD after he was stabbed 18 months ago.

As part of his community order Adamson was ordered to participate in five days of rehabilitation activities, was fined £20 and must pay £175 in costs and charges.

Chairman of the bench, David Batten, told Adamson: “You should know now, with your level of offending, you don’t get the option of doing stuff like this. If you commit further offences whilst you are under the suspended sentence order you will be sent to prison.”