With security cameras, staff and a magistrate looking on, a woman left her car keys on the seat behind her as she rose to try and argue her way out of a traffic fine at Wollongong courthouse, Thursday afternoon.
But despite all the surveillance, the keys were gone when she went to retrieve them and so –when she went to check Market Street a short time later – was her car.
After checking CCTV footage, police allege 22-year-old Brock James Martin was the brazen opportunist who pinched the keys and made off with the car.
Martin, of Bellambi, was arrested the next day after the stolen white Holden Captiva was involved in a short but damaging police chase at Warrawong.
The car’s number plate had the ‘P’ and ‘1’ changed to a ‘B’ and ‘7’ respectively, when police spotted it on First Avenue North about 10.30am Friday. Police lost sight of it as it sped away, but found it on the same street when they returned about 2.45pm.
Police allege Martin drove it about 200 metres before realising the street was a dead end. They allege he then turned suddenly into a driveway, reversed out, made some panicked manouvres before ramming the police car, causing it $3000 damage.
He allegedly kept trying to drive, again hitting the police car, as officers worked to remove him from the driver’s seat. Police struck him several times before they managed to undo his seatbelt and pulled him from the car.
Checks later showed Martin was disqualified from driving until October 2035. He was charged with theft, driving and drug offences, after police allegedly found two vials of steroid products in his pocket.
He was refused bail at court on Monday.
The matter will return to court on September 25.