It’s crime lesson 101: don’t introduce yourself to your victim.
But an Illawarra parolee stands accused of doing just that last month after being caught red-handed trying to steal a car from Figtree Grove.
Police allege Jonathan Whitfield was busted mid-way through the break-in, with the owner of the vehicle returning from a shopping trip to discover the door of his green Subaru sedan wide open and Whitfield sitting in the driver’s seat.
It is alleged Whitfield had removed the plastic casing on the steering wheel column and was holding a screwdriver inches away from the ignition.
“Are you right? Maybe you need these?” the owner said to Whitfield, motioning to the car keys in his hand.
“Well I was clearly going to steal you car,” Whitfield allegedly replied.
“I’ll give you three seconds to get out,” the victim said.
“This can go down two ways: I would have stabbed you to get away anyway,” Whitfield allegedly responded, moving his jacket to reveal a 25cm-long knife lying across his lap.
The victim told police he didn’t restrain Whitfield out of fear he might be stabbed.
Whitfield packed up his belongings and got out of the car before turning to face the owner and extending his hand in an apparent peace offering.
“I’m sorry, they call me Jonno,” he said as he shook the man’s hand, then walked off.
The victim reported the incident to centre security, who passed CCTV footage of the incident on to police.
Meantime, police will allege Whitfield made another basic criminal blunder just two days later when he was found fast asleep in a vehicle that had been stolen just hours earlier.
When questioned by police, Whitfield denied knowledge of the theft, saying “I don’t know whose car it is, I just needed a place to sleep and a mate told me I could sleep here”.
Whitfield was charged but released on police bail. However, he failed to turn up at court on October 31 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Police apprehended Whitfield in Port Kembla on Saturday night.
He sought release on bail in Wollongong court on Sunday but it was denied after the registrar found he’d not shown cause why he shouldn’t remain behind bars. The case returns to court on Monday.