A thief who stole a JCB digger and led police on a 5MPH car chase has been jailed for nine months.
Dozy Gareth Twigg, 23, was spotted pinching the one-and-a-half tonne digger from a building site in Rugby, Warks., on July 7.
He then smashed through a metal fence and drove for 100 yards on a busy main road.
Officers followed Twigg at just 5mph – the digger’s top speed – before he leapt from the moving vehicle.
A policeman managed to climb into the cab and stop the £30,000 digger moments before it ploughed into a building.
Twigg was arrested nearby and told officers gypsies had offered him cash to steal the digger from building firm Taylor Woodrow.
He admitted stealing and dangerous driving when he appeared at Warwick Crown Court.
Sentencing Twigg to nine months in prison, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told
him: ”This is valuable equipment which is being stolen, although I have no doubt you were a front-line stooge on behalf of others.
”But we move on to something which in reality is more serious still, because you went on to a public road without any proficiency in how to drive this, and you were on the phone when the police saw you.
”Then you jumped off the slow-moving but large piece of machinery and put at risk any car which may have been coming in the opposite direction and the police officers who felt duty-bound to jump on board to stop it.”
When officers arrested Twigg he told them: ”Someone dropped me off and put me up to it.”
He claimed a group of gypsies in Maltby, South Yorks., had approached him and offered him cash for a driving job.
He told officers he agreed and was driven to the depot where he was ordered to steal the digger.
Twigg, from Maltby, South Yorkshire, was also banned from driving for 18 months.