TWO men behind a break-in at Hermitage Academy have been told to expect lengthy prison sentences for the crime.

James Arthurs, 23, and 22-year-old Andrew Pyke, broke into the school on a Saturday morning in May and damaged part of the kitchen area.

They then got on the train to Dumbarton East and ransacked Dumbarton Academy later on the same day.

The pair pleaded guilty to two offences at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Tuesday, and were told by Sheriff William Gallacher: "These are pretty disgraceful crimes. These were acts of wilful callousness.

"You broke into two schools. I have a duty to protect the community and give schools the support they deserve.

"The message must be sent out loud and clear and lengthy custodial sentences must be imposed to mark these offences.

"But I must obtain social work reports as I am considering imposing on top of that supervised release orders."

The break-ins happened on May 27, 2017. The pair first broke into Hermitage Academy and stole a quantity of cash.

Later that day they broke into Dumbarton Academy with intent to steal, causing damage to the school estimated at £3,000.

Fiscal depute David McDonald told the court: "Hermitage Academy was locked and secured on Friday, May 26. At 6.25am on May 27, the alarm went off, which is monitored by a company in London.

"The key holder was contacted and attended. Police were not able to attend immediately because of an ongoing incident elsewhere.

"They key holder found 43 intruder faults registered and checked the area.

"Various office doors had been opened, including a safe. There was also damage done to the kitchen area and fire extinguishers had been moved.

"The premises was covered by CCTV. It was found that £30 was missing as well as $30 Australian dollars."

The court then heard how an alarm went off at Dumbarton Academy at 7.45pm the same day. Again, it was an English firm which monitored the school and alerted the keyholder who stayed nearby.

Mr McDonald went on: "He was joined by police and the school was checked. Drawers and filing cabinets had been ransacked and items scattered over the floor.

"A safe was also found on the floor. The point of entry had been a fire door. The damage was estimated at £3000."

Police on mobile patrol spotted Arthurs and Pyke, who matched descriptions of the two thieves who had been viewed on CCTV at both schools and at Dumbarton East station.

Mr McDonald added: "They made off, but were chased and caught and taken to Dumbarton Police Office, where they were interviewed. They both gave no comment interviews."

The court heard that Pyke is currently serving a sentence of 27 weeks imposed at Glasgow Sheriff Court on June 23.

Sentence on the pair - who were both listed in court papers as being prisoners at Low Moss in Bishopbriggs was deferred by Sheriff Gallacher until August 30, for the court to obtain full social background reports.

At the time of the break-in Argyll and Bute Council said damage to the school had been minor in nature and that the day-to-day operation of the school had not been affected.

Asked to comment on the pair's guilty pleas, an Argyll and Bute Council spokeswoman said: “This is a matter for the police and prosecution service.”