Worker pocketed Dapto woman's jewellery

It wasn't quite the Crown Jewels but a Koonawarra man managed to make off with $10,000 worth of jewellery while working in a woman's Dapto home, Wollongong Local Court has heard.

Wayne Anthony Owens raided the woman's jewellery collection, stealing plenty of bling, including a $3000 diamond band, an antique-style pocket watch and a pricey 18-carat gold bracelet.

The 35-year-old, who pleaded guilty, admitted to taking the items while working on the floors of the home, telling police he needed the jewellery to feed his drug habit.

Sentencing Owens on Wednesday, Magistrate Doug Dick ordered him to complete 500 hours of community service - the maximum penalty in the local court - and sent him to the cells overnight.

Owens pulled his heist in November while sanding and polishing the floors inside the woman's home, the court was told.

The owner allowed Owens inside the house to finish the work but returned home when the job was done to find her jewellery box open and a diamond ring, a white gold locket and several other expensive accessories missing.

The woman reported the theft and told police she believed Owens to be the culprit as he was the only person there at the time.

Officers later spoke to Owens who admitted to raiding the woman's wardrobe and knocking off her jewellery.

He told police he had taken the items to fund his and his partner's drug habits and intended to return the jewels but needed to retrieve them from his drug dealer, the court heard.

The woman said Owens had returned some items but claimed it was only the "junk jewellery" that had made its way back.

Owens pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of stealing property from a house.

Magistrate Dick ordered Owens to pay the woman more than $10,000 compensation.