A man who defrauded and stole from elderly people across the North Island with a hard luck story has been jailed.

Jade Roa's offending stretched from Te Kuiti in the south, to Kaikohe in the north and Hastings out east and was carried out over an intermittent four-year period.

He began his thefts in Te Kuiti in April 2016 when he knocked on the door of an elderly person's George St flat.

He said he had been beaten up by his girlfriend, had no food and that he had sat behind the man in church.

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After eating he left, but not before stealing the victim's eftpos card, driver's licence and cellphone.

The 30-year-old went into town and spent nearly $130 on various purchases including cellphone charges.

In July this year, he stole bank cards belonging to a Rotorua couple, aged 88 and 89, along with $150 cash and proceeded to spend nearly $700 on 13 different transactions in service stations in Rotorua and Auckland.

He'd entered the house on the guise his car had overheated and he needed a water bottle filled.

He appeared in the Hamilton District Court for sentencing on 17 counts of burglary, 20 counts of using a document for pecuniary advantage, and two counts of theft.

His offending in Te Kuiti would be similarly carried out in other small towns including Matamata, Taupo, Rotorua, Kawerau, Warkworth, Paihia, Dargaville, Kaikohe, Hikurangi, Kaiaua, Whangarei, Papakura and Orewa.

Each time he would target elderly people, the oldest being a 91-year-old Hastings man, maintaining either difficulties with his car for various reasons and each of the victims was prepared to take him at face value, given help and let him into homes, where he stole wallets and credit cards.

He'd then use the cards to buy alcohol or products at service stations.

When arrested by police, Roa said he knew what he was doing was wrong but he hadn't had any money to support himself and his partner.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong. I have been wanting to turn myself in."

Judge Kim Saunders read through the victim impact statements which she bared a common theme.

"Breach of trust, self-blame, the loss of personal items had been particularly devastating, feeling unsafe in their home and feeling scared," she said.

Roa had earlier accepted a sentence indication of four years and nine months prison with a 25 discount for an early guilty plea to the plethora of charges.

The judge noted that Roa had expressed remorse and read apology letters to his victims but she declined to offer any further discount for remorse.

The crown had pushed for a minimum non-parole period but that was also declined by Judge Saunders.

"Although it was offending designed to take advantage of those who were elderly and perhaps not as worldly-wise as others, you did target that specific age group and there was a significant number of charges.

"Having said that however, I don't consider that the minimum period of imprisonment is warranted in terms of the overall culpability of all of your charges."

Roa was convicted and sentenced to three years and six months' jail.