A man who targeted at least 30 victims during a "prolific" crime spree has been slammed by authorities for one of the most serious series of thefts they have ever seen.
Timothy Rodger pleaded guilty to 89 charges in the Ballarat Magistrates' Court, which arose from a spate of drug-fueled crimes mainly occurring between May and July 2023.
During this period, Rodger stole more than $1000 worth of fuel and items from more than 10 different petrol stations in the Ballarat area.
He targeted service stations from inner areas such as Ballarat Central Coles Express and Sebastopol Shell, as well as outlets in locations such as Warrenheip, Napoleons, and Maddingley.
Rodger frequented the service stations in several different cars with stolen plates attached, and filled the vehicles with fuel before driving away without paying.
On several occasions Rodger also stole thousands of dollars worth of items from Bunnings.
On May 6, he and a co-accused attempted to take $1028 worth of tools but were apprehended by staff who reclaimed the property, and on May 31, he stole a set of Ryobi secateurs and a pruning saw worth $514 from a Ballarat Bunnings.
On other occasions he took items from Colac and Waurn Ponds Bunnings, and also stole hundreds of dollars-worth of items from Mitre 10 Maddingley and Total Tools Ballarat during the same period.
Other businesses targeted by Rodger include a Wendouree pizza shop, Belmont Dan Murphy's and Aldi Kangaroo Flat.
On July 6, 2023, Rodger stole a Ford Laser from a Mount Clear drive way while the owners of the property were in their home.
The next day police were called to an accident in Harcourt where they found the Ford Laser in a ditch.
He's says he's got a good relationship with his family, it's been more strained over recent years, but he grew up with his parents and five siblings.- Defence lawyer for Rodger
Attached to the car were stolen plates that had been used by Rodger on various occasions, and he was found about 250 metres away from the vehicle while sleeping rough near a railway line.
Rodger was arrested by officers and admitted to stealing the car and numerous other offences.
His defence lawyer said he had committed the thefts as a way to survive during a period of heavy drug use and homelessness.
They said Rodger had limited criminal history, but had struggled to deal with his addiction since being jailed for an aggravated burglary.
"He knows it was incorrect, and he knew there was going to be a point where it all caught up with him," they said.
Defence counsel said the man had completed Year 12 at Ballarat's St Patrick's College and had worked full time as a painter-decorator.
They also said Rodger had a non-problematic childhood and had been supported by his family for a long time.
"He's says he's got a good relationship with his family, it's been more strained over recent years, but he grew up with his parents and five siblings," they said.
Police prosecutor leading senior constable Christopher Brown said Rodger, who was serving a Community Corrections Order at the time of the thefts, had committed an "unbelievable" crime spree.
[In]14 years of being with Victoria Police, this is the most offending I've seen of this nature over such a short period of time.- Leading senior constable Christopher Brown
"[In] 14 years of being with Victoria Police, this is the most offending I've seen of this nature over such a short period of time, he simply continues to get away with it, he became more brazen over time," he said.
Magistrate Michelle Mykytowycz said drugs had taken over Rodger's life to a level rarely seen.
"It's simply prolific, there has to be ... at least 30 victims here, we're running into thousands of dollars [of thefts], so prolific, so flagrant, and all to do with drugs," she said.
"It's all confined to an eight week period, in that very short period of time he's run rampant amongst the various business in this region and just outside it, it's simply staggering."
The matter was adjourned until December 22, 2023, for sentencing, and Magistrate Mykytowycz indicated Rodger would receive a straight prison term for the spate of thefts.