Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Super-thief honed skill in NZ

Barry Williams.
Barry Williams.

A burglar nicknamed "Spiderman" for his acrobatic break-ins to the homes of Australia's super-rich cut his teeth robbing affluent New Zealand properties from a young age, police say.

Barry John Hamiora Williams, a 195cm gym buff from Te Atatu, Auckland, was last week sentenced in Melbourne to serve at least three years in jail after admitting 23 charges.

Williams told police he deliberately picked properties with big fences "so I don't get no nasty surprise when I come out" and scaled multi-storey houses before prying open windows, sometimes while occupants were home.

The 40-year-old was a discerning thief who carried a diamond tester to make sure he got the genuine article, and his booty was made up of brands like Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

He once threw a 60kg safe out of a top storey window and during another burglary came across a A$140,000 ($150,000) bundle of cash.

Asked what he had done with the money, he told police "you'd be surprised at how much I can spend".

Detective Sergeant Wayne Mosdall, who led the Australian investigation, said Williams started robbing houses at a young age, and had more than 50 New Zealand convictions.

"It's all very similar to how he operated here," Mosdall said. "He committed burglaries between 6pm and 10pm - mealtime when families were at home - and he'd climb up to the second or third storey and go through a window, stealing cash from safes and jewellery. He was professional and perfected his craft."

Mosdall said Williams came across as "a nice guy".

"He's a large build - he obviously works out a fair bit - but he never assaulted anyone in the matters that we were investigating."

An Auckland police spokeswoman said Williams had a "comprehensive" history of burglary, car conversion and theft offences in the Auckland region between the late 80s and throughout the 90s.

During a police interview, Williams told officers that an older man had schooled him in how to be a burglar.

One of the interviewing officers joked that Williams must let him know what sort of properties did not appeal to him so he could buy one.

"Just don't get a big flash one," Williams replied.

- Herald on Sunday

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