A Ballarat man found washing stolen cars on two separate occasions at a North Melbourne address has been given a prison sentence in relation to a series of thefts.
Jordan Heffernan, 20, appeared via video link at the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Tuesday to plead guilty to a string of charges, including car and property theft, as well as dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The court was told at about 12.21pm on January 8, 2022, Heffernan and two other men were see loitering around parked cars near the North Melbourne train station.
Heffernan and another man stood as lookout as an associate was seen handling the lock on a car's driver's side door to try and open the vehicle.
The court heard Heffernan had noticed a witness watching the group, and approached the man, yelling at him.
The witness left the scene and called police, who arrived and arrested Heffernan and one of his associates. The third man ran from the officers.
Heffernan was taken to the Southbank police station, where police found a folding knife and four mobile phones in his possession. Police also found a scissor with one blade removed and tape wrapped around the handle.
Heffernan was later found by police at a North Melbourne address washing another car stolen from West Melbourne on March 13, 2022.
The court heard at about 11.30am on May 17, 2022, an anonymous caller contacted police about three men, one of who was Heffernan, changing the number plates of a BMW wagon parked outside of the same property in North Melbourne.
The BMW had previously been reported as stolen the night earlier from an address in Hepburn Springs.
Police arrived soon after at the North Melbourne address to find Heffernan cleaning the stolen car with a pressure washer. When the trio saw the officers, they quickly went inside the address.
Investigators returned to the address the following day with a search warrant, during which they arrested Heffernan for unrelated matters.
Mobile location data obtained during the investigation showed a phone linked to Heffernan to have been in the Hepburn Springs area at the time of the theft.
He also pleaded to charges resulting from a series of thefts from parked cars across Ballarat between September and October 2023.
The thefts occurred in Alfredton, Newington and Winter Valley, with car keys, identification cards and a laptop stolen.
Heffernan would later return to one of the addresses and use a stolen set of car keys to steal a Hyundai SUV with a company's sign writing on the side.
Police were called to a unit in Wendouree the following day to reports of a man using a knife to remove sign writing from the side of an SUV.
When police arrived they found the stolen Hyundai with the sign partially scraped off, and Heffernan inside of the unit with a backpack containing the outstanding goods.
At Tuesday's hearing, Magistrate Hugh Radford gave Heffernan a three-month prison sentence, with 56 days recognised as being served.
The magistrate warned Heffernan about the consequences of falling back into a similar pattern of offending when he was released.
"The problem you have got is... that you simply get released and there is a very strong pattern appearing, you fall into the old crowd again and you reoffend," Magistrate Radford said.