Two men who were observed watching a financial institution in west Dublin and following a woman when she left it had false registration plates on their car.
Miley McDonald (37) and Patrick Cawley (20) were intercepted before "a crime could be committed", an organised crime unit detective told Blanchardstown District Court.
Their plan was for a "stealth theft rather than anything else", defence solicitor Simon Fleming said.
Judge Paula Murphy fined Cawley €750, ordered a probation report and adjourned sentencing in the case of McDonald.
McDonald, of Ballyowen Lane, Lucan, and Cawley, of Rivermeade Avenue, Swords, admitted possession of false registration places to be used in a theft.
The incident took place at Topaz in Lucan last April 26.
McDonald further admitted driving without insurance or a licence at Lucan Road on the same date.
Det Gda Darren Coller, of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told Blanchardstown District Court that gardai set up surveillance on the defendants, who were watching a financial institution in Lucan.
Gda Coller said a woman left the institution and travelled out the Lucan Road.
The defendants went the same way and then pulled into a garage forecourt.
Det Gda Coller said gardai followed the men and intercepted them, "intervening before a crime could be committed".
The pair were in a silver Mazda 6 with false registration plates, the court heard.
McDonald was the driver, Det Gda Shona Moran said, and he was not insured.
The court heard Cawley had three previous convictions while McDonald had 39.
He was also driving while disqualified.
Defence solicitor Simon Fleming said "a stealth theft rather than anything else" was planned.
Cawley was married and his wife was pregnant, Mr Fleming said. He was currently living in the UK.
McDonald was married and had three children with a fourth on the way.
He had a problem with drink but was addressing it, Mr Fleming added.