A Ballarat woman who stole items from shops to fund her own drug habit has been warned of the dangers of cannabis use and organised criminal gangs.
Jodie Healey was carrying 12 grams of cannabis when Ballarat police officers arrested her on May 6. Her arrest came after she stole items from UFS Medical on Sturt Street in April.
Healey was placed on bail but five months later in October, she stole a vacuum cleaner from Bunnings Warehouse in Delacombe.
Her lawyer told the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Tuesday Healey stole the items to buy drugs.
"The shop theft was to obtain money for drugs. She is not skipping away from that," the Ballarat defence lawyer said.
He said his client fell into drug use after he son was killed in a car accident. Her health had improved since the shop thefts, having been on methadone since December, living at a stable address and being in a long-term relationship.
Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said cannabis use was so commonly used in the community it seemed to be normalised.
"I don't know what steps the government will take in the future to decriminalise it. There is such a large portion of people in the community who believe it is normal," Mr Klestadt said.
The court was told Healey had been before the court over the past six years and she had fallen into the habit of stealing to purchase drugs.
The magistrate warned Healey she was involved in a dangerous business.
"Cannabis is medically dangerous. You are buying it wittingly or unwittingly from organised criminal gangs who are ruthless to anyone in the community who are handing over money for their product," Mr Klestadt said.
"You are also putting yourself at risk of significant violence. You are not immune to that sort of behaviour."
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Ben Jones said Healey's offending involved thefts from UFS Medical in Sturt Street when she placed a $100 bottle of perfume in her black hand bag and left the store without paying.
He said Healey returned to the store a short time later and walked towards the skin care section where she selected two boxes of skin care products.
CCTV footage showed Healey bending down for a short time and when she stood up the skin care products were not in her hands.
Senior Constable Jones said after her arrest on May 6, Healey told police she could not remember the incidents but it was possible she took the products.
She told police she was in possession of the cannabis.
The court was told on October 11 Healey attended Bunnings at Delacombe where she selcted a vacuum cleaner, took it to a disability rest room and placed it in her pants.
Senior Constable Jones said a prevention officer stopped Healey from leaving the store and she was taken to an upstairs room until police attended.
Magistrate Klestadt convicted and fined Healey $750, telling her she was running out of options other than imprisonment.
Healey pleaded guilty to four charges, including shop theft and possessing cannabis.
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