A recidivist burglar who deliberately targets the elderly has avoided jail by enrolling in a rehabilitation programme.
Last May Milly Trevina Kalauni went into a Manurewa retirement village and helped herself to $155 from an 87-year-old's purse as the frail victim sat in the small unit.
The 36-year-old mother of two now has more than 38 burglary convictions but despite her "quite horrendous" record, Judge Gus Andree Wiltens gave her a chance to turn her life around.
"On the one hand I could take a big stick and punish you for behaving in a dishonest manner, or I can offer you a carrot," he said.
"It's a pretty close-run thing."
But because Kalauni had completed the first stage of the Salvation Army's Bridge Programme - aimed at addressing her methamphetamine addiction - it swayed the decision in her favour.
The police sought imprisonment but the judge sentenced her to two years on intensive supervision, 200 hours of community work and ordered her to pay back the cash.
Her elderly victim was satisfied with the outcome and chuckled when told of the community-service component. "Oh, that'll keep her busy," she laughed.
The May burglary, for which she was sentenced at the Manukau District Court yesterday, was the latest in a slew of almost identical crimes.
On at least four previous occasions Kalauni targeted elderly members of the community, usually with a story about needing to use their toilet, before rifling through the victims' property and swiftly making her escape.
Judge Andree Wiltens imposed judicial monitoring, which will allow him to keep tabs on her progress.
Kalauni will front up before him again in June and if she had not continued her rehabilitative efforts, the court's approach would be simple. "The stick will come out," the judge said.