A letterbox thief who pocketed several letters from unsuspecting Warilla residents has been jailed.
Warrawong father Chad Haselau, 37, was sentenced to a minimum six months behind bars yesterday over the stolen mail, which included credit card statements and electricity bills.
Magistrate Doug Dick told Wollongong Local Court that Haselau was a persistent offender.
"You have 47 sentence matters on your record - you just keep offending in the community," he said.
Haselau, who had pleaded guilty to the thefts, was caught peering into numerous letterboxes on January 11 and taking people's unopened mail - pocketing more than 20 letters from several households.
A witness spotted him taking the mail about 10pm, removing it from letterboxes and putting it down his shirt, the court was told.
The witness called police, who found Haselau standing on the footpath holding a large stack of envelopes.
Officers searched him and discovered a Swiss army knife engraved with the name "Chad" in his hand.
He was arrested and charged with having custody of a knife in a public place and larceny.
Mr Dick said yesterday that Haselau recognised he had acted inappropriately.
The magistrate said he had been asked to consider Haselau's health and substance-abuse issues in determining the appropriate jail term.
A probation and parole officer had also recommended that Haselau complete a stint in a residential rehabilitation program on his release from prison, the court heard.
Mr Dick sentenced Haselau to 12 months' jail for the offences with a non-parole period of six months.
He will be eligible for supervised parole in July.