Parking meter thief avoids jail
A man who went on a month-long rampage stealing cash from Auckland parking machines has been spared a jail term so he can pay the $38,000 bill.
Peter Alexander Rees, 46, was due to be sentenced in Auckland District Court today but Judge Gus Andree Wiltens said the reparation he owed Auckland Transport was "the most significant factor" and locking him up would restrict his ability to get the money together.
The Birkdale man stole $8500 from pay-and-display machines during the offending spree and caused $30,000 of damage to them in the process.
Rees brought $5000 in cash to today's hearing, which resulted in bizarre scenes with his lawyer David Dickinson having to count the money in court.
Judge Andree Wiltens said the reparation payment was a start but warned Rees there was a long way to go.
"The only way I can actually check to make sure you're going to pay the full reparation is to make sure you come back again and again," the judge said.
He deferred sentencing and released the offender on bail until September, after hearing there was guaranteed eight weeks of work for him on the horizon.
A summary of facts revealed the extent of Rees' offending and how he got away with so much cash.
Between October 5-29 he broke into 33 parking machines, most of which were in the Auckland CBD - targeting as many as seven a night.
Rees broke into the machines by attaching a hole saw to a cordless drill and drilling out the locks, giving him access to the cash box inside.
At times he got away with only $30 in coins but on three occasions there was more than $500 taken from the machine.
However, the cash he got away with paled in comparison to the amount of damage done.
Most of the units he drilled into required at least $600 of repair work and one in Takapuna he knocked off its concrete base had to be replaced at a cost of $8130.
Judge Andree Wiltens said he wanted to see more than $5000 from Rees when he appeared in September.
"Anything less on the next occasion will give me some grief and if I get grief, you might," he said.
"Just make sure you come next time with lots of money."
Auckland Transport is currently preparing a report for the replacement of pay-and-display machines across the Auckland region, looking at new technology which does not involve cash payments.