RINGLEADER: Robert John Norris, 33, (right) pleaded guilty to five charges of stealing, obstructing police and unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.
RINGLEADER: Robert John Norris, 33, (right) pleaded guilty to five charges of stealing, obstructing police and unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court. Contributed

Smash and grab 'last straw' for Urangan car wash

A BOTCHED smash and grab was the last straw for a Hervey Bay business which has now closed for good.

On June 15, two men wrapped a chain around a vending machine at a Urangan car wash.

They attached it to a stolen car and hit the accelerator in an attempt to bust open the machine.

All this damage for a measly $4 in change.

Ringleader Robert John Norris, 33, also stole an industrial vacuum from the business, worth about $3000.

Norris told police he threw it away because he had no use for it.

Police prosecutor senior constable Sonia Edwards told Hervey Bay Magistrates Court the car wash owner emailed police to say it was no longer viable to keep the regularly-targeted business open.

It has since closed.

The crime was the latest in a string of thefts for Norris.

In April he was caught stealing a television remote and about $100 worth of Easter eggs.

A month later, Norris and two other men walked into a department store and stole about $800 worth of manchester.

In June, he was a passenger in a car that was stolen.

Snr Const Sonia Edwards said the car's owner drove a group of men, including Norris, to a service station to buy fuel.

One of the men took the car keys from her and told her to get in the back of the car.

"About 100m after that, they've stopped on the corner of Bideford St and Freshwater St and she was directed to get out of the car," Snr Const Edwards said.

"She didn't want to challenge the people at that time and hadn't seen her vehicle since, despite making numerous requests for it to be returned."

Norris was arrested on June 19 after police found him asleep behind the wheel of the stolen car which had been used in the smash and grab just days earlier.

Defence lawyer Harry Morris said his client had a daughter in foster care and he only stole the items to provide for her.

Mr Morris said his client was high on morphine while committing the offences which explained the "recklessness and stupidity" of his actions.

Norris appeared in court on Thursday via video link from Maryborough Correctional Centre.

He pleaded guilty to five charges of stealing, obstructing police and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

He was convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail with a parole eligibility date of October 4.



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