Three Illawarra men make crime spree confession

Three Illawarra men have confessed to taking part in a spate of armed robberies, car thefts and break and enter offences throughout the region last year.

Kevin Santos, 25, and Brandon Gee and Maxwell Pagett, both 21, pleaded guilty to a host of charges in Campbelltown District Court this week, admitting they took part in planning, organising and carrying out the crimes.

The trio, along with co-offenders Rhian Kinloch and Matthew Nobrega, who have already been sentenced for their involvement in some of the crimes, were arrested on June 14 last year as part of a taskforce set up by Lake Illawarra detectives to investigate a series of break-ins at commercial premises throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

In one of the offences to which Santos pleaded guilty - a break and enter at Kiama's Grand Hotel last May - he and a number of undisclosed people smashed open a door at the hotel late one night and used a stolen car and a metal cable to try to steal the pub's ATM.

CCTV footage capturing the incident appears to show the cable snapping, prompting the group to leave without the machine, taking only what they found in the till.

Also in May, police intercepted telephone calls between Santos, Kinloch, Gee and Pagett in which they discussed plans to break into the Bulli Beach Cafe.

In the conversations, the men speak of needing "four and a driver", and the fact that the cafe had no alarm system.

All four men pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated break and enter.

Meantime, Gee also pleaded guilty to robbing a man at Haywards Bay of his laptop and iPad by threatening him with a mallet.

Santos confessed to being an accessory to that crime, as well as an accessory to another robbery on the same day, June 2, in which a woman had her laptop stolen.

Gee and Santos also admitted to being part of a group of five people who broke into the Robertson Bowling Club in the early hours of June 11.

The group used a crow bar to jemmy open the main front door lock, setting off the club's alarm system, before gaining entry to the foyer area, where they kicked in an office door.

Once inside, the group ransacked the office and removed numerous items from the shelves and cupboards.

Police claim CCTV footage shows one of the group taking a cash box from the premises.

Santos also pleaded guilty to stealing multiple cars, which were then used in some of the break and enter offences, and then torched.

Gee, Santos and Pagett, all of whom are behind bars on remand, will face sentence proceedings in early November.

Another man police allege was involved in some of the crimes has pleaded not guilty and is expected to stand trial in Campbelltown Local Court on Thursday.

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