A Figtree grandmother who stole $10,000 worth of cigarettes from her tobacconist son-in-law to help fund her gambling habit has narrowly avoided time behind bars.
Police said Minka Ibraim, 53, used her position in the family to gain vital information so she could pull off the scam, including secretly copying the key to her son-in-law's Crown Street business, King of the Pack.
However, police documents tendered to Wollongong Local Court say Ibraim tripped the silent alarm when she entered the store at 7pm on May 23 last year, prompting an phone alert to be sent to the store' registered owner, Anthony Cappetta.
Cappetta, himself a convicted drug dealer who had recently spent time in jail for his role in a large scale synthetic cannabis ring, drove to the shop but parked a short distance away to see who was inside.
He saw his mother-in-law walk out of the shop with a trolley containing two boxes, which she loaded into her car before returning inside the premises.
He confronted her inside the shop, later telling police she looked surprised to see him and claimed she was at the store "getting some drinks for a going-away party".
Cappetta helped her load the soft drinks into the front seat of her car before discovering the stolen boxes of cigarettes in the boot.
This is a very serious matter of dishonesty involving a breach of trust with your familyMagistrate Michael Stoddart
"It’s the first time, I’m sorry, please don’t tell your wife about it," Ibraim pleaded before leaving without the loot.
Cappetta told police he believed his mother-in-law when she said it had only happened once, so was shocked when a review of his CCTV system showed Ibraim doing the same thing four days earlier.
Cappetta reported the matter to police who charged Ibraim with two counts of larceny.
She pleaded guilty to both charges in court on Tuesday, with defence lawyer Paul Cramer saying she was remorseful and "deeply embarrassed" by what she'd done.
He noted Ibraim's sentencing report said she had problems with poker machine gambling at the time and had planned on selling the cigarettes on the black market to fund her habit.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart labelled Ibraim's actions "disgraceful".
"This is a very serious matter of dishonesty involving a breach of trust with your family," he said.
However, he stopped short of sending Ibraim to jail on account of her lack of prior offences and the fact she'd already paid half the money back. She was instead sentenced to a six month, community-based intensive corrections order.