Identity theft leads to crime spree

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 15:58 04/12/2012

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The parents of a Hamilton man have wiped their hands of him after he went on a crime spree which involved stealing another man’s identity.

The cost of the crimes - involving 23 charges - committed by Joshua Taiatu, 22, was more than  $40,000.

It all started on April 13 when Taiatu obtained a man’s Q-Card, racking up hefty debt by buying clothes at Hallensteins and JayJays, a new iPhone at Dick Smiths, $2695 worth of jewellery at Pascoes, $500 at JB Hi-fi in Manukau, and $299 at Dollar Deals.

Later that day he made a complaint with ANZ Bank that $287 had falsely been removed from his account. The money was repaid but an investigation soon found Taiatu had taken the money himself.

In early May in Hamilton, Taiatu broke into a house stealing a man’s driver’s licence and bank card, withdrawing $120. On May 18 he went to Vodafone and set up an account, buying two new cellphones worth $984.70.

He then proceeded to open up accounts at Forlongs Furnishings Ltd - $1500 worth of product; DTR on Victoria St - $700; Budget Cars - a $5000 1995 BMW - which he later sold to a friend; Peter Goulstone Motors - a $13,000 2002 Holden Commodore and $2678.90 worth of jewellery at Michael Hill Jewellers - which he sold 40 minutes later for $300.

Taiatu also stole more than $1000 worth of jewellery from his former landlady, which he sold to a wholesale dealer for $30.

Victims wrote in their statements how Taiatu had seemed convincing, while other victims were known to Taiatu or his family and said how they felt betrayed by a good friend.

Peter Goulstone wrote how he ‘‘would be quite happy to see him locked away and kept away from honest people who are doing their best to make an honest living which is hard to do at this time’’.

In between that spree, on April 19, he carried out burglaries, including that of his mother’s home. She had agreed for him to stay one night, before driving him to catch  a bus to Wellington. Three days later she discovered $35 worth of food missing from the freezer and Taiatu back in the sleepout garage, asleep, with the remnants.

He returned a couple of weeks later but was again evicted by his mother.

Taiatu then went to a friend of his mother’s in Hall St, Cambridge. He rang her pretending to be a courier to see if she would be home. 

He then broke in and stole an Apple iPod worth about $650 before selling it to a secondhand dealer. He broke into the house again a week later, stealing more electronic items including Apple iMac computer, laptop, Panasonic flat screen TV and camcorder totalling $4000. He sold the computer for $100. He sold the laptop for $50.

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Taiatu’s counsel Jared Bell said his client accepted prison was the only option as he didn’t have a suitable house for home detention.

Judge David Ruth said although Taiatu was only young, he had amassed a lengthy conviction history.

Judge Ruth said Taiatu’s acceptance to pay reparation was fruitless as he already owed $11,000 in reparation from victims in previous crimes.

‘‘(Reparation order) would no more than virtually elevate the expectations of (victims) ... your father wants nothing to do with you and your mother has banned you ... and that’s the result of what you did to people. You haven’t really showed empathy to the victims.’’

Judge Ruth sentenced Taiatu to 20 months’ prison.

- Waikato Times

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