MID Wales has been hit by a spate of thefts of vehicle hub cap inserts – the makers’ badges or emblems.

Dyfed Powys Police received dozens of reports of theft from car owners in December.

An investigation was launched and when officers stopped a car they found a black hold-all inside which contained 245 of them.

A Romanian national working at a butcher’s shop in Llanidloes, appeared from custody in court on Saturday and admitted six charges of stealing the inserts on December 19 and December 27 – together with the theft of a bicycle.

Defendant Gheorghe Cosmin Lutoaica, 29, of Regency Chambers Short Bridge Street, Llanidloes, said that others had been stolen by another man who had since returned to Romania.

Prosecutor Nicola Wyn Williams told a special weekend sitting of North East Wales Magistrates’ Court at Mold, said that as a result of police inquiries, CCTV led police to the defendant.

He was stopped in a car and officers recovered a stolen bicycle and the 245 hub cap inserts in a black hold-all in the boot.

The defendant said that they had all come from cars in the Newtown area .

Asked if he had stolen them all himself, he said that most were taken by another man who had since returned to Romania.

He indicated that he intended to “pass them on” in Romania.

The defendant identified locations where he had stolen six of them and the bicycle.

Mrs Wyn Williams said that the defendant had indicated to the police that he intended to return to Romania that day.

He said that he intended to take the hub cap inserts to Romania where presumably they had a good re-sale value.

Tools of the trade had been recovered and she described it as pre-planned thefts on a large scale where he had worked with another.

She applied for a remand in custody.

But magistrates agreed with defending solicitor Emma Simoes that the defendant should be bailed pending sentence at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court on January 15 when a pre-sentence report would be prepared.

Miss Simoes said that her client did not intend to leave the country.

He did intend to return to Romania on holiday at some point to see family but he had accommodation and a job in Mid Wales which he needed to return to.

She said his client had no previous convictions in the UK or in Romania.

Her client had a full time job in a butcher’s shop since the summer and if he was kept in custody then he would lose that job.

He was anxious to keep his job to make money and he appeared to have got into a panic over money to be sent back home where he had two children.

She said he was not thinking rationally when he offended.

He would appreciate the opportunity of having intervention from the probation service, she explained.

The defendant – who followed the hearing with the aid of a Romanian interpreter – was bailed on condition that he lived at his home address and did not apply for travel documents.

Magistrates told him he must not leave the country in the meantime.