Trolley-load of trouble for thief

Justin Maxwell Bennis appeared to be just like any other shopper on the hunt for bargains when he grabbed a trolley and strolled into Spotlight in Wollongong last Wednesday morning.

But just how much of a bargain he was hoping to score became all too apparent when, in possession of an overflowing trolley laden with household items, he walked straight out of the store an hour later without paying for a single item.

Luckily, a savvy employee sitting outside noticed Bennis’s loot looked a little different to how goods usually left the store - for start it wasn’t packed in bags and secondly, trolleys aren’t allowed out the door - and went to investigate.

A quick chat with his fellow workers revealed Bennis had left the store without paying, prompting the employee to call Wollongong Mall security, who in turn contacted Wollongong police.

Officers dispatched to investigate soon discovered the 30-year-old wandering along Church Street wheeling his trolley of goods.

Upon sighting police, Bennis took off, but was captured after a short foot pursuit.

The stolen items, valued at a combined $1106, included cookware, cushions, towels, electrical appliances, and bed sheets.

Further investigations revealed Bennis was also wanted over a break, enter and steal offence in April, where he smashed his way into the Northside Runners showroom on Crown Street and stole seven pairs of Nike shoes.

Facing Port Kembla Local Court on Tuesday, Bennis was remanded in custody for an options report to be compiled ahead of his sentencing next month.

The court heard Bennis had a 27-page criminal record, mainly associated with his prior long-standing addiction to ice.

However, his lawyer, Jonathan Kearney, said Bennis managed to kick his ice habit, only to develop an addiction to Xanax, which he is now prohibited from taking.

‘‘Clearly he was in a state of mind that was anything but rational [when committing the offences],’’ Mr Kearney said, adding Bennis desperately hoped to get a place in a full-time rehabilitation facility.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart said he would consider suspending a jail sentence for Bennis if a place at a residential rehab facility became available for him.

The case was adjourned to next month.

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