A Northland man who walked into a sporting goods shop and stole a gun has been sentenced to three months in jail.

Alastair Litt, 40, earlier admitted in the Whangārei District Court to stealing a .22 LR Chiappa Little Badger single barrel foldable rifle and 100 .22 rifle rounds valued at $400 on June 13. He also admitted possessing a firearm without having a firearms licence.

A police summary of facts said Litt went into Hunting and Fishing on Rust Ave in Whangārei about 4.20pm and spent several minutes looking at firearms and ammunition. Minutes later he grabbed the Chiappa rifle and manoeuvred it past a metal barrier.

When a shop assistant walked by, he leaned it up against a shelf. Litt took ammunition and put it in a bag before hiding the firearm under his clothing and walking out.

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Two weeks later, police searched Litt's Maungakaramea property where he showed them the rifle hidden in scrub.

Litt had two previous convictions for firearms offences and was on intensive supervision when he stole the gun from Hunting and Fishing.

His sentencing in October was adjourned as a property was to have been checked for suitability for home detention.

Judge Greg Davis called for an updated pre-sentence report to consider the options but said jail was the likely outcome.

The maximum penalty for theft under $500 is three months' jail, and possession of a firearm without a licence is punishable by a maximum jail term of three months and/or a fine of up to $1000.