A Napier man with a "chequered history" was sentenced to five months' home detention yesterday after pleading guilty to stealing thousands of dollars' worth of orchard equipment off his boss.

Mark David Croton, 49, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary after stealing more than $12,000 of equipment from a shed in a Clive orchard where he was pruning trees in August 2015.

Croton entered the shed after telling a co-worker he needed to use the toilet and then proceeded to steal two chainsaws, two crop spray helmets, several hydraulic lockers and a hydraulic hose.

After putting the items in his vehicle he returned to work for 30 minutes before leaving the orchard with the items and not returning.

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Croton admitted to the theft and said he was hooked on methamphetamine and had received a text message from an unknown associate stating he had to pay his drug debt that day.

Judge Geoff Rea said Croton must pay reparation costs totalling $720 by the end of the year, and warned him that any further dishonesty offences could land him in prison.

The judge said despite the "particularly mean-spirited" offence Croton had a favourable probation report and included in the sentence special conditions including completing alcohol/drug programmes, treatment and counselling.