Two Llandeilo traders were stung by an audacious shoplifter who made off with items worth hundreds of pounds because he “liked antiques”.

Robert Leyton Evans, from 6a Stradey Hill in Pwll, took an antique brass lantern clock – valued at £580 – from James Ash Antiques in Station Road just moments after stealing a valuable rug from neighbouring The Works Antique Centre.

Ellie Morgan, prosecuting, told Llanelli magistrates how Mr Ash was informed by customers that a man had walked out of the shop with the lantern at 3.10pm on May 9.

The trader went in search of the thief but was unable to find him and so went to neighbouring businesses.

Staff at The Works confirmed that a man matching the description had been in the store earlier and was spotted moments before driving away in a yellow Renault Kangoo van.

Police were called to the scene and began a county-wide search for the vehicle.

Officers spotted Evans’ vehicle in Stone Street, Llandovery, at 5.15pm and the 45-year-old was arrested soon after.

A search of the vehicle uncovered the clock – and the rug.

At the time of the discovery The Works staff remained unaware the rug - which was described in court as an expensive antique – had been stolen. The clock still had a James Ash price ticket attached.

In interview, Evans admitted taking both items but claimed he had not gone to the shops with the intention to steal and had more than enough money with him to pay for the goods taken.

He told police he had previously been a regular customer at both shops.

“It was just one of those days,” he told officers.

He said that he had planned to take both items home – “because he and his wife liked antiques”.

Evans denied he had any intention of attempting to sell the items.

Probation officer Tim Jenkins interviewed the father of two.

“He said that on that day he was stressed because he had been unemployed for two months,” said Mr Jenkins.

“The stress got on top of him.

“He says he had gone into the shops with the intention of buying something not with the intention to steal, but he simply saw the items and took them.

“There was no intention to sell the items on afterwards – he stole them for himself to enjoy at home.”

Evans said he was particularly ashamed of his actions as, during their previous business dealings, he had “always got on well” with Mr Ash who was “always polite and kind” towards him.

Ms Morgan told magistrates that Evans had five previous convictions for theft, committed between 1997 and 2010.

“Theft has been a feature in his past,” she said.

Evans admitted two counts of theft.

Magistrates sentenced him to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a further £60 legal surcharge.

Both items were returned to the store owners.