AN OFFENDER stole a car four hours after being bailed for stealing another vehicle and leading police on a high-speed chase, a court has heard.
Bailey Ranking, 24, appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to close to 50 charges.
The court heard about 11.15am on July 27 this year, a person parked their Volvo four-wheel-drive at a service station in Ringwood, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.
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The victim filled up the car with fuel and went to the store to pay, leaving the keys inside the vehicle.
Ranking entered the unattended car and drove off. He stopped in a Woolworths car park in Croydon where he stole registration plates from another vehicle and placed them onto the stolen Volvo.
Officers then saw Ranking driving the vehicle along the Eastern Freeway, travelling at an estimated speed of 180km/h.
The court heard the 24-year-old, who was unlicensed at the time, was weaving between traffic and nearly collided with other drivers.
Police eventually lost sight of Ranking but located him at a Clifton Hill service station about 2.19pm that day.
He and his female passenger were arrested and interviewed. The pair made admissions before they were bailed to appear at the Ringwood Magistrates' Court.
About 6.34pm that evening, Ranking and the co-accused went to a Wantirna service station.
The victim had left their Honda Civic at the petrol bowser while they went to pay for their petrol. Ranking entered the car, which still had the keys inside, and drove off.
Over the next couple of days, Ranking and the co-accused used the stolen Honda to steal number plates from an East Bendigo address and petrol from a Ravenswood service station.
The court heard on August 2, the pair drove the vehicle to a petrol station on High Street in Bendigo.
When the victim left their Toyota Corolla unattended, Ranking entered the vehicle and drove off.
Police recovered the stolen Honda from the High Street service station. There were personal documents with Ranking's details left inside the vehicle.
In the early hours of August 3, Ranking and the co-accused went to an Eaglehawk address and stole registration plates, which they then attached to the stolen Toyota.
The court heard on August 6, Ranking stole petrol valued at $63 from a Serpentine service station before stealing more number plates from a Grovedale address the next day.
Police located the stolen Toyota outside of an address in South Melbourne on August 11.
Ranking and his co-accused were found inside a nearby apartment block and arrested. The keys to the stolen car were located on a bedside table.
Ranking also pleaded guilty to a Long Gully burglary and to stealing $630 from a pokies machine at the Bendigo RSL.
Defence lawyer Bethany East said Ranking was a young man who had significant issues with drug abuse.
Ms East submitted that the offending was "unsophisticated and opportunistic", and occurred to support Ranking's drug habit.
The defence lawyer said Ranking had not previously been given the opportunity to complete a community corrections order so he should be given a chance at rehabilitation after serving 70 days in custody.
Magistrate Patrick Southey said Ranking and his co-accused's "crimewave" was serious and showed a "total disregard for the law".
But Mr Southey said he accepted Ranking was a young man who entered a guilty plea at an early stage.
The magistrate said he would have the 23-year-old assessed for a community corrections order.
Ranking is due to return to the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Thursday for sentencing.
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