Gravestones at Ipswich Cemetery.
Gravestones at Ipswich Cemetery. David Nielsen

Scrap metal thefts busted after bizarre graveyard visit

CURIOUS police stopped a couple at 4.20am after spotting their Holden Rodeo driving out of a cemetery in the darkness.

A check under a tarp covering the rear tray revealed a haul of stolen scrap metal including radiators, a sink, car batteries, a trolley and a cordless angle grinder.

The pair, Toni Bliss and a man whose matters are still before the court, were charged with stealing scrap metal from three waste and recycling businesses.

One offender Toni Maree Bliss, 34, went before Ipswich Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing on February 12 at Heritage Park, February 18 at New Beith, and February 18 at Logan Village.

And she also pleaded to being in possession of a knife in a public place (Ipswich Courthouse) on December 19, 2018.

In evidence put by prosecutor Senior Constable Carl Spargo, the stealing offence on February 12 was from a Logan City Council owned operation, the Browns Plains Waste and Recycling Facility.

Bliss and her co-offender stole a quantity of various metals and equipment including an old air compressor, tool box, grease gun, two sledge hammers and a crowbar. They also stole a quantity of copper and hard steel.

They took away the property in a Holden Rodeo. A fingerprint found on a roller door of a storage container was identified as hers.

Bliss later admitted to police she had been stealing from such facilities for more than a year - the scrap metal cleaned then sold to scrap yards in the Archerfield area.

Bliss said she did the offences to put food on the table and feed her co-offender's ice habit.

Just after midnight on February 18 Bliss and her co-offender got through a hole in the fence to enter the Greenbank Waste and recycling Facility in New Beith.

A quantity of old radiators, electric motors and a sink were taken, loaded onto a ute.

She also helped her co-offender load more than 50 batteries onto the ute, the pair leaving at 3am.

Then at 3.20am Bliss and her co-offender parked in a cemetery and walked into the adjoining Logan Village and Recycling Facility.

Police say her co-offender searched metal bins and stole various metals, radiators and a sink, and also took car batteries. Bliss loaded them into their Holden Rodeo ute.

After being intercepted by police leaving the cemetery they were both taken to Jimboomba police station.

Senior Const Spargo said Bliss told police the estimated value of the scrap metal found in the ute to be worth $1200 - $1300.

Bliss's defence lawyer sought a jail term no longer than six months as an appropriate penalty, also acknowledging that she'd been on probation at the time.

"It was out of desperation for school fees," the lawyer said.

"Her former partner is the co-offender. She has cut ties with him."

Magistrate Donna MacCallum sentenced Bliss to three months jail, immediately suspended for nine months. And fined her $250 for having a foldable knife at court.



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