Man drove 100km to steal women's undies, court told

Stephen Gardner (65) has been sentenced to 11 months' home detention for the burglary of a...
Stephen Gardner (65) has been sentenced to 11 months' home detention for the burglary of a student flat. PHOTO: ROB KIDD
A North Otago man travelled 100km to steal eight pairs of women's undies, a court has heard.

Stephen Graham Gardner admitted a charge of burglary before he appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week but claimed his trip from Maheno to Dunedin on April 6 was not undertaken with the crime in mind.

Counsel Brendan Stephenson said his client made the lengthy trip simply to use the spa at Moana Pool and the plan struck him while having a dip.

At 9pm, the 65-year-old parked his car in Logan St and walked to Cargill St equipped with torches, disposable gloves and a jemmy bar.

Mr Stephenson told the court the defendant had the items in his vehicle coincidentally because he liked doing mechanical work on cars.

"Really?" Judge Kevin Phillips asked.

Gardner claimed he targeted a flat at random.

But that too did not wash with the judge.

"The indications are he had thoroughly cased this flat, knew the girls would be away and that they'd have underwear," he said.

Gardner got into the house through an open window.

Once inside he rummaged around and managed to snaffle eight pairs of underwear before he heard the residents return.

As the two women prepared to open their front door, the defendant burst through it, pushing one of the victims aside, dashing into the night and dropping some of the stolen briefs and burglary tools in the process.

Rather than heading back home though, Gardner want to a nearby bar.

When he later returned to the scene of the crime to gather the items he had dropped, a police dog sniffed him out and he admitted the break-in.

One of the victims said she found the experience "very creepy" but was trying to move on from the ordeal.

The other had felt ongoing repercussions.

"She finds it difficult to trust people," Judge Phillips said.

"She's scared in her own home."

Mr Stephenson said a psychologist's report revealed the deep-rooted issues behind Gardner's unusual behaviour.

The man had witnessed abuse at an early age, which had manifested in "intimacy issues".

The underwear theft was his attempt to forge an attachment with the opposite sex, Mr Stephenson said.

A 2013 conviction for theft also involved lingerie, the court heard.

Gardner was sentenced to 11 months' home detention and ordered to pay the victims $1000.

At the request of police, the judge ordered confiscation of the defendant's Toyota vehicle since it had played a key role in the commission of the offence.


I would never have guessed that those girls would have had underwear, that judge is on to it, can't fool him.