A Hastings man has admitted to stealing from a church to try pay off a drug debt.

Jonathan Langley Dine, 25, pleaded guilty when he appeared in the Hastings District Court yesterday for what was his first burglary-related offence.

Dine visited the First Presbyterian Church in Invercargill in October last year, stealing money and inflicting damage valued at $249, police prosecutor Tanya Ashfield told the court.

"It seems you offended to repay a drug debt you incurred purchasing methamphetamine," Judge Bridget Mackintosh said during the sentencing.

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Mrs Ashfield said Dine entered the Invercargill church about midday and hid until all occupants had left the building.

After stealing several keys and cash from the church, Dine proceeded to open the congregation's donation box with a key he had stolen, removing the cash inside which was in coin form.

"It was a pretty low sort of thing to do," Judge Mackintosh said.

Dine, a former Hawke's Bay Today reporter, was sentenced by Judge Mackintosh to 100 hours' of community work, 9 months' supervision and ordered to pay the reparation costs of $249.

Judge Mackintosh said Dine had no burglary history and ordered that he complete a drug treatment programme.