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Pair steal £3,000 from pub gambling machines in “professionally planned” three-day crime spree
A PAIR of Dorset men stole nearly £3,000 from pub gambling machines in a “professionally planned” three-day crime spree, a court was told.
Luke Rudkin and Curtis Coney-Lax targeted pubs in Southampton, Eastleigh and Weymouth with a third, unidentified man.
Southampton Crown Court heard it was unclear how the men managed to extract the cash.
But it is thought they had a system of lifting the front panels of the machines before hitting a test button underneath, releasing coins.
The court heard how they would gather around the machine pretending to play as normal – and then carry out the theft together while drinkers were sitting just yards away.
They were only caught when a maintenance worker realised cash was missing from one device and the pair were later identified on CCTV.
The 25-year-olds were arrested and both pleaded guilty earlier this year to six counts of theft totalling £2,861.
The offences took place on March 15, 16 and 18 this year.
Rudkin, of Hayes Avenue, Bournemouth, and Coney-Lax, of Layton Road, Poole, both had previous convictions and both had separate offences taken in to account as they were sentenced.
The court was told how they had both suffered with gambling addiction in the past and had kept out of trouble since their arrest, pleading guilty at the first opportunity.
But Judge Peter Ralls said: “You have indulged in this habit of attacking gambling machines in pubs. You may think they are fair game and that is all part of the sport, winning against the machine.
“But breaking into it and getting it to regurgitate the cash inside is clearly dishonest.
“This was professionally planned and a clever trick to be able to steal cash.”
Rudkin was sentenced to 20 months suspended for two years with a three-month overnight curfew.
Coney-Lax was given a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years as well as a one-month curfew order. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service.