A woman who went out at night to steal garden gnomes is facing a jail sentence.

Karen Stenhouse, 37, crept into gardens within a 20-mile radius of her home and then sold the gnomes at car boot sales and street markets.

The mother-of-three was caught by an 11-day undercover operation that led police to a horde of garden ornaments, including 30 gnomes, complete with fishing rods and wheelbarrows.

Alloa sheriff court heard that during one three-week period in 2005 Stenhouse stole ornaments worth more than £700. The police haul included ornamental rabbits, birds and hedgehogs.

A total of 132 ornaments were found, but only a handful could be traced to their owners.

Stenhouse and Anne McCallum, 36, both of Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, were originally charged with 42 separate offences of theft. McCallum's pleas of not guilty were accepted yesterday.

Stenhouse admitted six charges of stealing gnomes, plant pots, pots of flowers and garden ornaments from addresses in Alva, Tullibody, Stirling and Bridge of Allan.

Sheriff William Gilchrist deferred sentence for a background report.

A spokesman for Central Scotland Police said the raid that recovered the stolen goods marked "the culmination of a highly successful surveillance". Many other crimes were solved during the surveillance.

One of Stenhouse's victims said: "I lost a little old man smoking a pipe and an old lady with a barrow. What gave me the creeps was that someone was so close to the house. She would have had to come right up our path to steal them."