A MAN who stole items from cars in Alloa has narrowly avoided a prison sentence for his offences.

Ian Douglas appeared at Alloa Sheriff Court on Thursday, January 31, after he pleaded guilty to four charges of theft.

The charges state that between December 27 and 28, Douglas broke into a locked car on Pine Grove and stole a wallet and cards.

He then stole a purse and its contents from an unsecured car on Hillcrest Drive.

The 24-year-old then stole electrical items, batteries, lighters and a quantity of medication from another unsecure vehicle on the same street.

He was also charged with being found at a dwelling on McKinlay Crescent without authority and likely intending to steal.

Kelly Howe, representing Douglas, told the court that these were his first offences for dishonesty and that he can't remember anything from the nights in question.

She added: "He was found in possession of all of the stolen items."

The crimes came amid a warning from community inspector for police in Clackmannanshire, Mark Murphy, after a high number of unlocked vehicles had items stolen from them.

He told the Advertiser in December: "We would urge people, especially at this time of year, to make sure your car is locked at all times.

"In Clackmannan last week someone had a load of Christmas presents stolen from the back of their car.

"This isn't anything sophisticated, these people are going along and trying every car door they pass until they find one which is open."

Alloa's PC Kevin Grattan also issued an appeal through Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, highlighting that unlocked cars are "easy pickings" for thieves.

He said: "Recently, Alloa, Clackmannan and Menstrie have again suffered from opportunist thieves targeting unsecured cars and vans.

"Please spread the word amongst family, friends and neighbours that as long as there is easy pickings these thieves will continue to work in our area.

"Locking valuables out of sight preferably within the boot would also help.

"If you see any persons acting suspiciously around vehicles especially within the hours on darkness please call it in."

Sheriff David Mackie told Douglas, of Lewis Court, that his crimes did have an effect on people.

He said: "Although you have no recollection, you did commit these offences. It is disruptive at the very least.

"These offences justify a custodial sentence, but that would be short and pointless."

Sheriff Mackie ordered Douglas to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work as well as 18 months of supervision with a requirement to undergo addiction counselling.