Accused of recruiting kids to steal: woman no-show in court

A Lake Illawarra woman accused of recruiting a 14-year-old to steal thousands of dollars worth of goods from Illawarra retailers has failed to appear in court.

Melissa Butler, 33, was due to appear in Port Kembla Local Court on Tuesday charged with seven counts of theft, four counts of recruiting children to assist criminal activity, offensive behaviour and possession of stolen goods.

Police will allege in court that Butler was responsible for the theft of more than $3000 worth of goods from Illawarra retailers between June 10 and July 9, including  four occasions when she allegedly recruited a child.

Among those occasions, she allegedly recruited a 14-year-old to snatch $1645.75 worth of goods from Rebel Sports Warrawong, and $269 worth of ratchet sets and blowtorches from Super Cheap Auto Warilla, the police charge sheet read.

Children were also allegedly used to steal from Harvey Norman and Big W outlets in Warrawong.

Butler has also been accused of stealing a total of $465 in items from Auto Barn and Total Tools at Albion Park Rail.

Police also allege that she had failed to comply with her bail by flouting bans from entering Westfield Warrawong and Super Cheap Auto in Dapto.

The matter is due to be mentioned in court again on Tuesday, August 19.