Stolen post boxes sold on Ebay by Chirk thief Mark Crowther

Mark Crowther at Mold Crown Court Image copyright Andrew Price

A thief stole £11,000 worth of post boxes from villages in Wales and England and sold them on eBay.

Mark Crowther stole post boxes from Wrexham, Flintshire and Shropshire, causing a total of £26,000 in damage.

Crowther, 37, of Chirk, Wrexham, admitted 33 counts of theft and five attempted thefts and got a 12-month sentence, suspended for 16 months.

Sitting in Mold Crown Court, Judge Niclas Parry called it "an attack on the way of life in rural communities".

Crowther took drills, screwdrivers and other equipment in order to remove the post boxes, which he then sold to unsuspecting people on the online auction website. No mail was taken.

The thefts took place between 2012 and 2014 and the court heard Crowther escaped immediate jail due to the delay by Royal Mail in bringing the case against him.

He was first identified as a suspect in April 2014 when he was convicted of damaging a post box.

His computer and phone were seized and showed he had searched for post box locations and their locking mechanisms.

Judge Parry said three years had passed since his last conviction and the delay in coming to court was not his fault.

"In the circumstances it would be a nonsense to send you into custody bearing in mind you should have been dealt with in 2014 or 2015," he said.

Mr Lloyd said there had been a substantial investigation involving a larger area going back to 2010 but conceded there had been delays in the case.

Brian Treadwell, defending, said the offences dated back a long time and Crowther had since transformed his life.

He has two children and was working hard as a coatings operative where he was a valued employee, he added.

As well as the suspended sentence, Crowther must also carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

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