TWO senior policemen from Neath are facing jail after being caught stealing in a sting operation at a fake "crime scene" - by their own colleagues.
Det Sgt Stephen Phillips and Det Con Jason Evans were filmed on secret cameras taking cash and biro pens planted in the sting house.
A court heard how Phillips, 45, was caught taking £250 when he was called to a house under criminal investigation - not realising it was a set-up by other police officers.
Evans, 44, was also videoed pocketing two pens while he carried out the investigation using a search warrant at the same time.
The court heard the officers thought they were investigating a burglary, but were set up as part of "trust exercise" by suspicious police chiefs.
A team of officers including Evans and Phillips were sent to the house which was filled with "evidence" including Viagra, bags, mobile phones, watches and £21,647 of cash.
But Phillips and Evans did not realise the property had been fitted with hidden cameras and covert microphones - and the woman posing as a resident was an undercover detective.
The pair - who are suspended by South Wales Police - were warned they faced custody after admitting theft.
Judge Bodfan Jenkins told them: "There can be few examples of a graver breach of trust.
"This is a gross breach of trust in relation to the force and what the public expect from the police.
"It's not about the cost, it's about the breach of trust and at first blush it appears to me that this is a custody case."
The officers, who are based in Neath, were part of a team investigating organised crime.
The pair were investigated by South Wales Police's corruption unit for theft and misconduct.
Cardiff magistrates court heard how the force decided to carry out an "intelligence led integrity test" on the pair.
They pretended they were asked by Greater Manchester Police to investigate a property allegedly linked to a series of burglaries.
Prosecutor David Roberts said: "Phillips was filmed putting his hand inside a coat pocket and finding £240.
"He removes his hand and leaves the scene - but then returns 20 seconds later when he removes the cash and places it in his pocket."
Phillips also took £10 from a bedside table. But he did not realise all the notes had been marked with invisible ink and the serial numbers recorded.
Evans was filmed going into the bedroom and taking two pens during the raid in March this year.
The pair then drove up the M5 to meet plain clothes officers from Greater Manchester Police at a service station.
While waiting for the meet Phillips spent £60 of the money on a Monopoly-themed gambling machine.
As they drove back to South Wales they were pulled over by a marked police car and arrested by members of their force's Professional Standards department.
The court heard Phillips, of Skewen, Neath, claimed he was going to return the money to the woman who lived at the house.
Evans, of Cilfrew, Neath, admitted stealing the pens while he was interviewed under caution.
The pair both pleaded guilty to theft. They were given unconditional bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared.
Phillips and Evans have 26 and 19 years service to their names respectively, and will face misconduct proceedings in due course according to South Wales Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Police officers take a vow to serve the public and uphold the law with fairness, integrity and impartiality. Any who fall short of those standards or who abuse their position, will face disciplinary action, the prospect of criminal prosecution and dismissal.
“As soon as the officers were suspected of acting improperly, an investigation, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was launched which culminated in the dedicated integrity test and their subsequent arrest and suspension.”
“I want to reassure the public that we take this type of behaviour very seriously and continue to work hard to root out any corrupt officers and staff.”