A man had admitted his role in snatch and grab jewellery thefts of more than $20,000 worth of gold and diamond bracelets and rings.

Anthony Gene Wharton, 44, has pleaded guilty to two counts of shoplifting items worth more than $1000. The thefts, in Auckland and Hamilton, resulted in about $10,000 worth of jewellery taken at each.

Wharton, who appeared in the Rotorua District Court on Monday via audio visual link, also pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, possessing cannabis, possessing needles and other items used to consume drugs, shoplifting, breaching prison release conditions and breaching community work.

Police summaries of facts relating to all charges have been released to the Rotorua Daily Post.


Wharton and a woman went to the Otahuhu Jewellers on Great South Rd in Auckland on May 31 about 12.50pm.

The woman engaged the store saleswoman with a display of an assortment of 9 carat gold zirconia rings and gold bracelets worth an estimated $10,000, the summary said.

The assistant took out a tray of rings and was holding them in her hand while the woman was trying them on.

Meanwhile, Wharton went into the store and was looking at another display. The summary said he then quickly turned around and grabbed the tray of rings from the staff member and ran out of the shop.

On the same day, a woman went to Hart Jewellers on Ward St in Hamilton about 3.35pm and asked to try on some gold and diamond bangles valued about $10,000.

The shop assistant removed a tube of bangles from behind the counter and put them on top of the counter.

Wharton then went into the shop and loitered nearby before seizing an opportunity. He pushed the woman out of the way when the assistant handed the bangles to her. He then grabbed the tube of bangles and ran out of the store, the summary said.

The charge of shoplifting related to an incident on March 26 in Whakatane when he failed to pay for nearly $100 worth of petrol at Z Energy on King St.


He further came to police attention on April 2 on King St in Whakatane when police were speaking with a woman driving a car he was in.

Police smelt cannabis and conducted a search, finding both wet and dry cannabis inside the car. They also found a set of digital scales and a glass pipe. Wharton was seen trying to dispose empty point bags and a glass pipe. He told police all the items in the car were his, the summary said.

The burglary charges relate to offences on March 19 in Kaingaroa Forest and another about 10 days later, also in Kaingaroa Forest. Among the items stolen were televisions, jewellery, clothes, a silver spoon collection, food, and a framed leather satchel containing the victim's grandfather's war time memorabilia.

Judge Tony Snell has remanded Wharton in custody to reappear for sentencing on September 11.