Ice addict’s sneaky scheme rips off Bunnings for thousands

AN ice addict and his mates hit a series of Bunnings stores in a scheme to rip off thousands of dollars in goods from chainsaws to steam mops.

The money was used by the main offender to score drugs.

Tools and goods like leaf blowers, mowers, and vacuum cleaners would be purchased.

Then soon after one of his mates would go into the store and select the exact same tools, show the previous receipt and simply walk out past staff without payment.

They would then go to a Bunnings store and get a refund on the second lot of tools that had not been paid for by showing the first receipt.

Details of the scam were revealed when one of the offenders went before Ipswich Magistrates Court for sentence.

Matheus Theodorous Gerrits, 34, pleaded guilty to 11 charges of committing frauds against Bunnings hardware stores; possession of dangerous drugs on November 16, 2019; possession of drug utensils; and possession of anything used in the commission of a crime.

Prosecutor Sergeant Rose Molinaro said the total cost of the frauds to Bunnings was $6153.50 and police sought that Gerrits be ordered to repay his share of restitution calculated at $3176.32.

Two different friends of Gerrits had been involved at different times.

Sgt Molinaro said his criminal history included drug matters involving methylamphetamine and receiving tainted property.

The frauds against Bunnings were committed when Gerrits was on parole for earlier offences.

Sgt Molinaro said such offences commonly go hand-in-hand with drug offences.

Police sought a jail term of between six and nine months and with actual time served.

Magistrate Kurt Fowler sought confirmation of the way Gerrits did the offending, revealing that he, or one his two friends, would enter Bunnings and make the purchases.

Then, after leaving the store, give the receipt to the other one outside who would then enter to select identical goods and present the earlier receipt when leaving the store.

"So it is essentially purchasing two items for the price of one," Mr Fowler said.

"But it went further as he had the audacity to go to another Bunnings and return the items for a refund."

The offences were spread over 14 months with many in September and October last year.

The frauds involved Bunnings stores at Springfield Central, Oxley, Bundamba, Rocklea and Ipswich.

The variety of goods included vacuum cleaners, a steam mop, portable air conditioner, cordless lawnmowers and a chainsaw.

Defence lawyer Amy Zanders argued that Gerrits receive a wholly suspended sentence to be coupled with a supervised probation order to allow him to undertake drug rehabilitation.

She said he'd recently found work as a labourer.

"He instructs he suffers a drug addiction and was drug dependant and used the funds to support the habit," Ms Zanders said.

"Yes, he was on parole (at the time) but wasn't breached (by Probation and Parole) as he'd been compliant with the order, other than the fact he committed further offences.

"He is willing to pay restitution."

Mr Fowler said the offending conduct was planned and the goods had a total value in excess of $6000.

He noted that he breached a $1000 bond and ordered that this be forfeited - to go to the state penalties enforcement registry (SPER) to work out a payment plan.

Mr Fowler convicted Gerrits of the 11 fraud offences and sentenced him to eight months' jail.

He also received lesser, concurrent jail terms on the other charges.

He was taken immediately into custody by police officers in the courtroom.

Gerrits will be eligible to begin his application for parole from September 23.