A FORMER "professional criminal" going straight for the first time in his life stole a power tool as he was quoting for building work in Kidderminster in a "moment of madness", a court heard.

Frank Wilde, 34,a father-of-three, of Lyndon Close, Sedgley, Dudley, admitted theft of an angle grinder worth £650 from a builder's van outside a cottage on the A442 in Cutnall Green on July 15.

He was given nine months' jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to do a total of 200 hours unpaid work in the community when he appeared for sentencing at Worcester Crown Court.

Wilde, who was already in breach of a 12-month suspended jail sentence for handling stolen goods, was also ordered to pay £340 court costs.

Jason Aris, prosecuting, said Wilde had 69 previous offences, spread over 18 years, many of which were connected with motoring, although 13 were for dishonesty.

A witness alerted police after seeing him take the angle grinder and Wilde told police the theft was committed in a "moment of madness", when he was quoting for building work in Kidderminster and had stopped in Cutnall Green to ask for directions.

James Bruce, defending, said Wilde had been a professional criminal but now had job prospects and was "going straight for the first time in his life".

The theft of the tool had been an "unplanned, unsophisticated, snatch" at a time when money was tight and his family was facing eviction from their home by the local council.

Mr Bruce added Wilde now had a property renovation job.

Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC told Wilde: "You know just how mean it is to steal somebody else's tools" but he added that he had been persuaded to suspend his prison sentence.