Two men stole hundreds of pounds worth of scrap from isolated farms across Lincolnshire, a court was told.
Lee Charles and Adam Buff travelled around collecting metal and old batteries which they then later sold on to a dealer in Newark.
Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that the pair targeted farms at a number of places including Friskney, Hogsthorpe, Bilsby, Colsterworth and Potterhanworth.
The pair were legitimate scrap dealers but did not have permission to take the items they stole.
Mr Lowe said: “They were taking it upon themselves to drive around Lincolnshire, attend isolated farm buildings and steal what they could lay their hands on by way of scrap metal.
“If confronted they would routinely deploy excuses including requesting whether or not they could shoot on the land and asking retrospectively if there was any scrap metal for sale.”
Charles, 31, of Harvey Close, Grantham, and Buff, 21, of Goodliff Road, Grantham, each admitted theft between September 2011 and March 2012. Charles was given a three-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months with 100 hours of unpaid work. Buff was given 100 hours of unpaid work. Charles was ordered to pay £750 prosecution costs and Buff £250 costs.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Charles, said his client accepted he was instigator of what happened and that Buff was effectively working for him.
He added: “They were legitimate scrap metal dealers going around the county asking people to leave out scrap. They collected a large amount of scrap legitimately doing it on a daily basis.”
He said that Charles turned to scrap dealing because of the recession but has since returned to his original work in the construction industry and continues to employ Buff.
Mark Watson, for Buff, said: “He was the hired help. He was doing what he was paid to do. He continues to work for Charles as a labourer.”