You can run from the law but you can't hide - particularly when a police dog picks up your scent.

Winiata Ross Amopiu's attempt to quietly break into a Maitland St property in the early hours of June 24 did not quite go to plan.

The 42-year-old ''serial burglar'' found a spade in a garden shed at the property and used it to lever open a window.

However, a security device restricted his entry, so he resorted to less subtle means. He went back to the shed, grabbed a hammer and smashed a window in the door before reaching through and unlocking it.


Unsurprisingly, the noisy break-in attracted the attention of a neighbour. The defendant scaled a fence and ran off into the night.

He made it about 200m to Lees St, where he hunkered down.

Meanwhile, a police dog team at the address of the burglary was preparing to sniff him out.

Amopiu was found hiding under a blanket on a porch in Lees St.

''When spoken to by police it was noticed that the defendant was sweating heavily. He was very unco-operative,'' a summary of facts said.

There, officers also found his tools of the trade - a torch, black leather gloves, a black balaclava, a meat hammer and the claw hammer from the shed.

Amopiu pleaded guilty to burglary and unlawfully being in an enclosed yard when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court.

Judge Kevin Phillips counted at least 25 previous similar convictions.


''One thing can be said without a shadow of a doubt: you're a burglar, that's what you do,'' he said. ''Unfortunately, over the years you haven't been too successful, because you've been caught a large number of times.''

While he agreed with defence counsel Jim Takas that incarceration would not help the defendant, he said at least it would protect the public.

''The community has had an absolute gutsful of people like you,'' the judge said.

The owner of the Maitland St home was away on the weekend of the break-in but said he and his two young children had found it a ''disturbing and gut-wrenching experience''.

Takas accepted his client had an unenviable criminal record but had spent the past two years out of trouble, holding down a job as a kitchen hand in Dunedin and Moeraki.

''He is a person on the cusp of change in his life.''

Judge Phillips said there was no hope of Amopiu paying reparation, despite his offer to do so, and jailed him for 18 months.