A homeless man discovered in possession of power tools stolen from a worksite in Minnamurra hoped to sell the items to feed himself, a court has heard.
Police were responding to reports of a man and a woman seen acting suspiciously along the river front on Sunday morning when they discovered Mark Bradley Brown and his partner living in a makeshift shelter made out of multiple tarps strung together.
Officers searched the shelter and discovered an array of Ryobi power tools at the site.
They included: a battery drill, an impact driver, a battery charger and two batteries.
Police also discovered a Navman navigation device, a dash cam, a transistor radio and a trolley at the site.
Brown initially denied any of the items were stolen but later confessed he'd taken the tools from worksite in Minnamurra.
He told police he'd acquired the other items while "erching" - a term police say describes the act of a person trying car doors and stealing from vehicles which are unlocked.
The total value of the stolen goods was estimated at $650.
Brown told police he intended to sell the items to pay for food.
Brown was arrested and taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station where he was charged with having suspected stolen goods in custody and larceny.
He was remanded in custody overnight and faced Wollongong Local Court on Monday via video link from a holding cell.
Brown's solicitor, Jim Allen, said his client had been relying on food banks and charity hand-outs for food, however most had been closed recently due to the coronovirus outbreak.
"He was desperate," Mr Allen said in entering a plea of guilty to both charges on his client's behalf.
He also told the court Brown had believed the trolley, which had a "bung" wheel, was worth about $60. It was eventually valued at $160, police said.
"He accepts he's done the wrong thing and asks the court to take into account the reasons why," Mr Allen said.
Meanwhile, police noted in their submissions that the value of the stolen goods amounted to $810 which they said wasn't an insignificant amount.
Magistrate Susan McGowan spared Brown any bonds, instead fining him a total of $950 for both offences.