THE director of a brewing firm has told how he and his colleagues thwarted thieves who attempted to make off with half a tonne of valuable steel during a brazen morning heist.
Bruce Turner and senior figures at PureMalt were in a meeting when they noticed two men loading steel piping into a flatbed truck in the yard of their East Lothian factory.
Members of staff rushed down to confront the men while Mr Turner sealed the gates shut, blocking their escape.
They refused to let the men go until police arrived, and prevented £4000 worth of goods being stolen from the Haddington factory.
James McMillan, 37, and David Clifford Millar, 40, were arrested and pleaded guilty to theft at Haddington Sheriff Court, while their truck was seized by the authorities.
Today, director Bruce Turner, whose firm has been victim to previous thefts resulting in significant losses, said: “It was the brazen nature of it that was shocking, the fact they just wandered in in broad daylight.”
He went on: “We were having a meeting upstairs and my colleague Gary Shaw said ‘what are those men doing over there?’.
“We looked out and saw these chaps helping themselves to things from our yard. The three of us at that point went down and Gary Shaw and Ross Turner confronted them.
“Our guys were very direct and went straight over and confronted them.”
Mr Turner said the thieves began unloading the metal after being challenged, but intended to flee the scene.
He said: “Then they started unloading the materials, but they thought they were just going to get anyway with it.
“However, we’d taken the precaution of locking all of the gates and therefore cooped them up.”
“Then they got increasingly upset. By then quite a number of our guys had picked up something had happened and so were there in numbers.
“But you just don’t know whether someone is going to be violent.”
He added: “They were all for getting out. They said ‘we’re not hanging around here’, and ‘you haven’t called the police have you?’.
“Then they tried to make their escape. One of them scarpered over the wall before the police arrived.”
Last week, McMillan was jailed for eight months while Millar was sent to prison for four months over the attempted theft on August 10.
Mr Turner said his staff had shown bravery in confronting the thugs and were pleased at their sentences. He added: “We’ve got a bit of a paranoia about metal theft in particular. We’ve had a couple of major losses and we know it’s a general problem.
“We’re pleased to see these men have been caught and jailed.”
Lothian and Borders Police said the theft of metals hits businesses hard, and added that the court had made an example of the convicted pair.
A spokesman said: “Officers regularly patrol areas where metal is used or stored and offer crime prevention advice to homeowners and business to ensure they do not fall victim to thieves.
“Anyone who is found to be involved in the theft of metal will be robustly dealt with, as has been proven with the sentences handed to James McMillan and David Millar, who will now spend time in prison and have forfeited possession of their vehicle.”