A MAN responsible for a spate of burglaries and break-ins across the Ballarat region this year has been jailed.
Geoffrey Wetzel, 21, appeared at the Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to a range of burglary, theft and damage charges.
The court heard that the Wendouree man ransacked his next-door neighbour’s home. Then, while out on bail, burgled a number farming properties around the Ballarat region.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Steve Kent said that on January 15, Wetzel and a co-accused turned off the power to the unit next door to them, jumped the back fence and went through the neighbours’ side door.
Senior Constable Kent said Wetzel used a screwdriver to force the door from its hinges, allowing him entry to the unoccupied home.
“They went from room to room, ransacking the house,” he said.
The court heard the pair took cash, jewellery, chequebooks and even family photographs from the home.
Senior Constable Kent said they went back to steal more items later that night, but police were called and caught the men hiding beneath a bed.
He said Wetzel told police during an interview “I just kept ripping drawers into a bag”, regarding the ransacking.
The court heard that while on bail for that offence, Wetzel and another man stole thousands of dollars worth of tools from tradespeople’s vehicles and burgled farming properties at Bungaree, Coghills Creek and Bullarook.
He said motorcycles, chainsaws and other items were taken during a number of night time “runs” the pair made to the farming properties during June.
Defence lawyer David Tamanika said his client had an intellectual disability and was influenced by a co-offender in each case.
He said Wetzel also had a problem with substance abuse, and he called for pre-sentence reports on his client’s rehabilitation prospects.
Magistrate Andrew Capell agreed to the reports, but jailed Wetzel so they could be completed while he was incarcerated.
“He may have an intellectual disability, but he sure knows how to break into things,” he said. “This is a man who, while on bail, kept offending. I have no confidence in him.”
Wetzel will reappear in court on November 8.