A Wollongong labourer who stole more than $18,000 worth of jewellery in three snatch-and-run style thefts at south coast jewellery stores told police he was trying to support a $5,000-a-day gambling habit.
Kiall Stephen Powell, also known as Kiall Nebauer, used identical tactics to make off with three gold chains and a gold bracelet from three different stores in Nowra and Warilla Grove between March 4 and March 26.
Court documents said on each occasion, Powell entered the store and approached an employee, telling them he was looking for a present for his partner.
When shown the items, he would take one and attempt to try it on or take a closer look at it, before running out of the store without warning.
Each of the shop employee later told police they remembered the thief having distinctive tattoos on his arms.
The court heard Powell attended Nowra Jewellers on Junction Street on March 4 and picked out a 9 carat gold bracelet valued at $1,399.
When the employee's back was turned, Powell said "see ya" and ran out of the store, across the road and into a waiting car.
Almost two weeks later, Powell went to Prouds the Jewellers at Stocklands Nowra and spent about 30 minutes browsing the stock and speaking with the sales assistant before making off with a chain valued at $2,799.
On March 21, Powell stole two chains - one worth $4,500 and the other valued at $10,500 - from Gold City Jewellers at Warilla Grove.
Powell was arrested on March 26 and charged with multiple counts of larceny, to which he pleaded guilty in court this week.
He was sentenced to 12 months jail, with a non-parole period of six months and ordered to repay the value of the jewellery items, which were never recovered.