A woman whose $17,000 jet ski was stolen by a career burglar says she has "lost a bit of that Dunedin innocence".

Tony Charles Robertson went on a near month-long crime spree in May and June and was finally hauled before the Dunedin District Court last week where he was jailed for three years.

Once the defendant was apprehended, he worked with police to reunite all his victims with their possessions.

All except Glenda Alexander.

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On May 24, Robertson was driving around Pine Hill with a friend.

The associate waited while Robertson walked down Ms Alexander's driveway where he spotted two jet skis in an open car port.

Tony Robertson is a recidivist burglar with more than 30 convictions. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Tony Robertson is a recidivist burglar with more than 30 convictions. Photo / Otago Daily Times

The pair drove off but on June 17, the defendant was back.

With a vehicle waiting, Robertson unlocked the Sea-Doo GTI 90 jet ski from the tow bar to which it was attached and wheeled it to his own vehicle.

It was hidden at a friend's address and later sold, the court heard.

Because the jet ski had only recently been purchased, it was not yet insured.

"It's a loss the victims are going to have to wear," prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said.

Alexander, a union official who stood for Labour in the Waitaki electorate in 2014, said the timing of the sentencing added "salt to the wound".

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"This is when we would be looking forward to using it," she said.

Robertson had offered to sit down with Alexander for a restorative-justice conference but she said she was put off by his extensive criminal history, which stretches to nine pages.

Thirty five of his previous convictions were for burglary, Judge John Macdonald noted, after pausing to tally them up.

Alexander said she was torn between cynicism and believing people had the ability to change.

Defence counsel David McCaskill was optimistic about his client's will to alter his life's course.

He told the court Robertson had started counselling for trauma experienced during his childhood and was actively looking for a spot in a residential rehabilitation programme for when he was released from prison.

Drug abuse had been the major factor behind the crime spree, McCaskill said.

As well has targeting Ms Alexander, Robertson also stole mag wheels, a rifle and ammunition during a Brighton burglary and later a motorbike from the same area.

Along with the three burglaries, he was also convicted of three counts of receiving and one of unlawfully taking a vehicle.

Robertson was assessed as a high risk of reoffending.

Judge Macdonald refused to order reparation for the jet ski because the defendant already owed victims of his past crimes more than $29,000.

Alexander said they did not want the incident to turn them into "classic victims".

"It's disturbed our sense of security but we'll move on," she said. "We've lost a bit of that Dunedin innocence."