THIEF James Veale has admitted stealing valuable rings from the homes of pensioners where he was supposed to be carrying out repairs.
Exeter magistrates were told that Veale, 30, was part of a window repair firm that has been contracted to carry out work at two properties.
Karen Ball, prosecuting, said: "On November 7, last year, he was working at a property in Sidmouth to repair a sash window in a bedroom.
"The work took about 45 minutes. Two days' later, the owner, who is in her 70s, noticed that two of her rings were missing.
"This followed in incident on September 1 where he was at a job at a home in Exmouth for repairs in a kitchen. The owner, who is in her 90s, later discovered items of jewellery that were missing."
The rings from the first incident, one valued at more than £1,000 and the other at more than £2,000, were later recovered from a shop near Exeter which specialises in buying gold. The ring from the second incident, which was valued at £350, could not be returned as it had already been melted down.
Mrs Ball added: "Veale was arrested and told officers that he admitted taking the rings and taking them to 'the gold place'.
"He had been working for the repair company for ten years and described taking the items as 'a stupid moment'.
"Although he was working with others at the properties, he told officers that his colleagues had nothing to do with it."
Mrs Ball said Veale also admitted that he used cocaine, but did not feel he was addicted, and that he was struggling for money.
He does not have any previous convictions but did ask for a third similar offence on November 15 to be taken into consideration.
James Rickard, defending, told the court that Veale had made full admissions and had cooperated fully with the police investigation.
He said: "He is also voluntarily working with the drug service to address some of those issues."
Veale was given a community order which will see him have to complete 120 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.
He will also have pay £350 in compensation to the owner of the ring which had been melted down.