A SHARP-eyed police woman stopped a van driver in the centre of Ammanford and solved burglaries across Wales, a judge heard on Friday.

WPC Nicola Wilson spotted the van travelling on the A483 Tycroes to Ammanford road and decided to question the driver.

She lost sight of the van, but found it a short while later in the centre of Ammanford.

The driver, Robert Jason Thomas, aroused her suspicion after telling her he was on his way to visit a friend but then couldn’t name him.

WPC Wilson searched the van and found power tools stolen from sheds and garages across “a huge geographical area” stretching from Knighton in mid-Wales to Newcastle Emlyn in west Wales.

Thomas, aged 41, admitted five buglaries and asked Judge Paul Thomas to take into account three additional break ins.

Ian Ibrahim, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that WPC Wilson had been so quick that police were able to alert householders to the break-ins before they knew anything had happened.

Mr Ibrahim said police were able to contact Paul Wakefield in Newcastle Emlyn and tell him his chainsaw was safe while he was still in bed and unaware that it had been stolen.

After his arrest Thomas said Christmas had been approaching and he was short of money.

He said he had been on the lookout for scrap metal, but took to entering sheds, out houses and garages.

Judge Thomas said the defendant had a “long and bad record” of offending.

He said he was sure that Thomas's’ four young sons would have preferred to have had their father home for Christmas than any presents he might have bought them.

“Some of the items you stole were extremely valuable,” he added.

Thomas, of Monk Street, Aberdare, was jailed for 18 months and ordered to pay a government surcharge of £120.