A BENDIGO burglar broke into numerous homes and stole cars during a New Year's crime spree across central Victoria.
Matthew Drew, 30, appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court last week where he pleaded guilty to 12 charges including burglary, theft, and making threats to kill.
The court heard in the early hours of December 23 last year, unknown offenders stole a Toyota Land Cruiser, a trailer, and a Polaris ATV from a Kangaroo Flat property.
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The stolen trailer and buggy were found in Mandurang the next day, while the Land Cruiser was recovered at the Harry Trott Oval in Kennington on December 30.
A palm print belonging to Drew was found on the windscreen of the stolen vehicle.
The victim started making their own enquiries into the theft and determined Drew was responsible.
The victim contacted Drew over Instagram and the pair exchanged a series of messages, including one from Drew that said, "you're done dog".
On January 1, Drew called the victim and threatened to shoot him and his father in the back of the head. Drew also said the victim's brothers needed to "sleep with one eye open".
The court heard on January 13, another victim parked a Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driveway of a Romsey business.
About 6am the next day, Drew and an unknown offender were captured on CCTV footage arriving at the business in a Ford Territory.
Drew exited the car, broke into the Jeep, and fled the scene in the stolen vehicle.
About 3.40am on January 17, Drew was again captured on CCTV driving the stolen Jeep to a property in Strathfieldsaye.
A caravan, valued at $70,000, was parked on the nature strip of the property. Drew connected the caravan to the stolen Jeep and sped away.
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On the afternoon of January 18, Drew broke into a locked Maiden Gully property while the owners were not home.
Drew disconnected their power from the meter box and stole a speaker and several USB sticks.
The 30-year-old then went to another Maiden Gully property. Two children were home at the time and the front door was unlocked.
A nine-year-old girl was sitting in a loungeroom when she heard quiet footsteps in the hallway coming from the front door. Her older brother was in a bedroom at the rear of the property.
The girl hid under a desk but Drew spotted her. He fled the address via a sliding door and jumped the back fence.
The court heard between December 31 and January 22, Drew also stole several registration plates and cars from properties across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Drew was arrested on January 22 in Sunbury. He was taken to the Broadmeadows Police Station for questioning, but could not be interviewed due to a medical episode.
Defence lawyer Alex McLennan told the court during the period of offending, Drew's mental health had spiralled due to the breakdown of a long-term relationship.
Mr McLennan said Drew relapsed into drugs and started heavily abusing illicit substances.
The defence lawyer submitted that Drew had already served 252 days of pre-sentence detention, so a community corrections order was within range.
Magistrate Megan Aumair said she would reckon the 252 days of jail as time served and release Drew on a 12-month corrections order.
As part of the order, Drew will have to complete treatment for drug abuse and mental health.
If Drew did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for 18 months with a non-parole period of 12 months.
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