AN EMPLOYEE masterminded a Mission Impossible-style heist at a Bendigo sports store to clear his debts, a court has heard.
Stuart Shipway, 23, carefully planned the elaborate burglary at the Kangaroo Flat Rebel Sport outlet for months before trying to steal the store's safe in the early hours of January 30 this year.
The former Bendigo man, and personal trainer, scaled an industrial drainpipe to reach the store's rooftop, used a rope to haul up a backpack containing an assortment of tools and entered the building through a hatch he had left unlocked.
Shipley then made his way through the storeroom and cut his way through a wall to the shop floor to avoid detection on security cameras and motion sensors.
He spent the next two-and-a-half hours trying to cut through a second wall to gain access to the business' safe.
At about 6.30am, Shipway conceded defeat and left the building via the roof, jumping the three metres to the ground before dumping his clothes and backpack.
He pleaded guilty in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Friday to one count each of burglary and attempted theft.
Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Chris Jones told the court Shipway went to work later that morning and noted to colleagues and police investigating the burglary that the figure caught on CCTV footage held a remarkable similarity to him.
But he told police he was running a boot camp at Rosalind Park at the time of the crime.
A week later he told police he'd lied about his whereabouts so his girlfriend wouldn't know what he had been doing and gave a second false alibi.
Shipway was arrested in March and admitted he'd planned the burglary to try and clear his debts.
Defence lawyer Megan Aumuir told the court her client was a young man with no prior convictions who had found himself in considerable financial stress.
She said Shipway felt remorse for the personal harm caused and the betrayal of his friends and colleagues.
"He is deeply ashamed by his conduct," Ms Aumuir said.
"It's quite extraordinary and seemingly out of character behaviour."
She said since his arrest Shipway had relocated to ensure he had family support around him and had engaged in counselling to address any mental health issues.
Magistrate Bruce Cottrill said the offending was at the highest level of seriousness and said it was further aggravated by the degree of planning involved and his attempts to avoid detection following the burglary.
"It represents a massive breach of trust," he said.
"On any measure, this is offending that deserves a period of imprisonment."
But he said Shipway's lack of priors and good prospect of rehabilitation were mitigating factors.
Mr Cottrill sentenced Shipway to a 15-month community corrections order with 250 hours of unpaid work and mental health assessment and treatment.