Tauranga Court: Repeat burglar put behind bars

By Sandra Conchie

Mount Maunganui 21-year-old Victor Toetoe was jailed for one year and 11 months yesterday.

But while his victims were happy to hear he was behind bars, it was still cold comfort given they will never see some of their precious possessions again.

Between September 8 and December 6, 2011 Toetoe broke into four homes in Gate Pa, Otumoetai, and Mount Maunganui.

He stole up to $20,000 worth of items from a Miro St property and a substantial amount of jewellery, medals and family heirloom jewellery from a Gate Pa couple.

The Gate Pa couple, Ray and Janet Crafts, had been at every court appearance since Toetoe's arrest for breaking into their rental home on October 6, 2011.

Some of the items have since been recovered including a Boer War memorial medal awarded to one of Mrs Crafts' forbearers and a pre-1800s set of amethyst rosary beads.

But Mr Crafts' NZ Army 6th Battalion Hauraki Regiment good conduct medal with two bars, marking his 40 years of service, has not been recovered.

Neither has some of Mrs Crafts' jewellery and the $500 the couple had saved up to attend their daughter's 50th birthday party.

A sheepish-looking Toetoe appeared before Judge Christopher Harding for sentence in Tauranga District Court.

His lawyer, Herman Roose, said despite Toetoe's best efforts to retrieve some of the stolen items he had been unsuccessful.

Mr Roose said Toetoe had written a letter of apology but accepted he would probably be going to prison.

"Mr Toetoe tells me he has learnt a great deal since being in custody and has made efforts towards his personal growth and is motivated to turning his life around," the lawyer said.

Judge Harding said Toetoe claimed he had become a Christian while in prison.

He told Toetoe these burglaries not only caused financial losses but also caused "many sleepless nights and clearly significant emotional harm to his victims".

With 17 previous appearances in court for burglary, nothing less than a prison sentence could be imposed, the judge said.

"Regrettably, despite the significant losses, I am not able to order reparation or emotional harm to be paid to your victims as you can't generate money from a stone," Judge Harding said.

Toetoe's female partner is due to be sentenced later this month.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Victims hoped for longer jail term

Gate Pa couple Ray and Janet Crafts say they are pleased to see the young man who burgled their home sent to prison.

The Crafts had moved into the house they are renting only 10 days before the October 6, 2011 burglary, after being forced to sell their home of 40 years through falling victim to the Blue Chip collapse.

Although they were tenants, the Crafts spent $1300 installing a new security system and extra locks after the burglary and they have become almost "paranoid" about security after being invaded.

"Although we are quite pleased with the sentence, it could have been longer. I was hoping for about three years," Mr Crafts said.

"Particularly after we were told that, because he had already spent about three months in custody, he is likely to be out again in nine months and isn't being made to pay reparation.

"I don't think that is fair. He should be made to serve the whole of his sentence."

Mrs Crafts said their insurance company had paid out on most of their losses but she could not bear to wear replacement jewellery as it would feel tainted.

Some of the items stolen were priceless treasures for the couple, including Mr Crafts' NZ Army 6th Battalion Hauraki Regiment good conduct medal for 40 years' service.

Mr Crafts said he has been able to arrange for a replacement to be made but despite some help from the RSA it will cost him $158 plus $5 postage to get it.

"It's not going to be the same medal that was awarded to me by the Queen," he said.

"What right has this toe-rag to go onto our property and take our precious property and hock it off for a measly sum?"

The couple rubbished their burglar's apology and claim that he had found Christianity.

"Yeah, right, that's just a lot of rubbish. It doesn't wash with us. His apology is just too little too late," Mrs Crafts said.

Others sentenced yesterday

Solo father Duane Taikato, 45, handed himself in after he and another person committed a smash and grab break-in at the sawmill on Matakana Island on July 14, 2011 during which more than 10,000 worth of timber, scrap metal and dive gear was stolen. Taikato was sentenced to three months community detention and 100 hours community work. He was ordered to pay $2987.19 reparation at $50 a week.

Mount Maunganui man Rikki Robb-Nyman, 22, who burgled two properties in Bethlehem and Bayfair on December 22, 2011 was jailed for six months. He was ordered to pay $1724.32 at $20 a week on his release from prison. Nyman's sentence also includes time for unlawfully taking two cars, unlawful interference with a another motor vehicle, possession of a cannabis plant and a petrol drive-off.The victims of a burglar who took more than $25,000 worth of property clapped loudly as he was sent to jail.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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