A BENDIGO burglar could be released from jail in a matter of weeks after he stole items worth $240,000 during a drug-fuelled crime spree.
Evan John Bennett, 32, was sentenced in the County Court on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to 52 charges including aggravated burglary, damaging property, and theft.
The court heard Bennett had been released from custody in May 2019, with his admitted crime spree spanning from June 10 to August 2 of the same year.
During that period, Bennett and an associate broke into 14 residential and commercial properties around Bendigo and Melbourne.
The 32-year-old would use various tools to smash his way into the residences, causing damage to doors, windows, and gates.
Bennett and his associate then stole dozens of items including $17,500 in cash, Eftpos machines, luxury watches, paintings, handbags, power tools, and passports.
The total value of the stolen items was estimated to be valued at $240,000.
Bennett also used the stolen Eftpos machines to obtain more than $12,000 from the burgled businesses.
During the majority of the burglaries, the victims were not at the properties.
But on one occasion on July 11, a Bendigo motel owner confronted Bennett after he heard him break in. The 32-year-old fled the scene before police arrived.
Bennett was first arrested on July 23 after he broke into a Melbourne hardware store.
Police found a two-way radio, black balaclava, knife, gloves, and a bar in his possession, but he was released on bail.
Bennett continued to offend for another couple of weeks before he was arrested a second time on August 2.
He had cannabis, methamphetamine, and MDMA tablets in his possession, along with several stolen items, a tomahawk, and a bolt cutter.
Police also uncovered the storage unit that Bennett and his associate were using to hide the items they had stolen during the burglaries.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge James Parrish said Bennett's crimes were "reasonably serious", given the large number of offences in such a short timeframe.
Judge Parrish said he accepted Bennett stole items and cash to fund his drug addiction, and that there was no violence against any victims.
The judge said Bennett's rehabilitation prospects were "guarded" given his drug history, although he accepted the 32-year-old had made steps to work through his addiction while in prison.
Judge Parrish said a parole period could help facilitate Bennett's transition back into the community.
Judge Parrish convicted and sentenced Bennett to three years and two months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years and two months.
His 775 days of pre-sentence detention were reckoned as already served.
If Bennett did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for four years and six months, with a non-parole period of three years and two months.
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