A SERIAL thief in Bendigo committed five drive-offs at the same petrol station in just over one week, a court has heard.

Kiara Austin, 20, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court to a range of theft charges committed in Bendigo in a three-week period between late May and mid-June.

Austin targeted Apco Kangaroo Flat five times in nine days stealing a combined $300 in petrol, using a Ford Laser with false number plates.

The thefts occurred between May 29 and June 6.

She was also charged with a number of thefts from bottle shops across Bendigo, including a $154 haul from First Choice Liquor on Williamson Street.

On that occasion, Austin entered the store and left soon after. She then returned and taunted the store attendant, saying “you thought I was going to steal something, now I will”.

Austin walked out with slabs of Wild Turkey.

She also targeted BWS in the Bendigo Marketplace and BWS in Lansell Plaza, where she walked out of the store with a six-pack and held one up to the attendant “while smiling”.

The Lansell Plaza theft was just moments after Austin stole $180 in Nike tracksuits from Rebel Sport.

She was spotted on CCTV wearing one of the tracksuits during a petrol station drive-off.

Austin used a Ford Falcon reported stolen from Williamson Street to steal $61 worth of petrol from Golden Square Caltex, and a Holden ute to steal $60 in petrol from a Maryborough petrol station.

The court heard Austin stole the front and rear number plates from a Kia Rio parked on Vinton Street, California Gully, on June 16.

Austin was arrested last weekend when she lost control of a stolen car at a roundabout on Bright Street, California Gully, hitting a tree, a parked car and a trailer.

She fled the scene with the male passenger, and was arrested soon after.

Defence counsel Kate Youngson said Austin “hit the self-destruct button” after a significant change in her family, and had attempted to “drink herself into oblivion”.

“She was brazenly stealing slabs of alcohol, almost as if she wanted to be caught,” she said.

“It was almost like there’s no point in living.”

Magistrate Michael King said Austin had a chance to turn her life around, and told her to write down the kind of person she wanted to be.

“The court gives people a number of chances, but if you don’t pursue them to get your life back on track, then the courts options become very limited,” he said.

“I want you to picture what sort of person you want to be, because I will take into account into what you write.”

Extracted from Bendigo Advertiser.