'Recidivist' burglar tracked by victim's GPS

A “recidivist spree burglar” was found by one of her victims using a GPS fob attached to a set of...
A “recidivist spree burglar” was found by one of her victims using a GPS fob attached to a set of keys she had stolen. File photo: Getty Images
A "recidivist spree burglar" was found by one of her victims using a GPS fob attached to a set of keys she had stolen.

Layna Brown, 35, committed at least 11 burglaries over the course of a year to feed her addictions, stealing anything from bank cards to a brand new electric bike, still in its packaging.

Now she is going to jail after a quick-thinking victim went looking for her using his phone to zero in on the location-finding device on a set of keys she had taken from his car.

Brown appeared in the Hastings District Court on 11 charges of burglary and a raft of other offences, including possessing utensils for methamphetamine and cannabis.

The burglaries, to which she pleaded guilty, spanned nearly a year from October 2022 and involved both commercial and residential properties around Hastings and Napier.

Some of the offending occurred after she absconded from electronically monitored bail.

Judge Gordon Matenga said that Brown had taken several bank cards that could be used easily to make a "quick dollar" - she used them soon afterwards to buy things at a supermarket and petrol stations.

However, she also took larger goods including a mini dirt bike, a drone, a vintage radio, hunting gear, a camera and lens, a walkie-talkie and clothing.

She took the $3000 electric bicycle from a van parked on a driveway in Napier.

Brown was linked to two of the burglaries by leaving fingerprints.

Last October, Brown took a $1500 HP laptop from an unlocked vehicle. She also took the keys with a global position system (GPS) fob attached.

The owner used the device to track Brown to a road in Havelock North. He went there, saw his stolen items in her vehicle, confronted Brown and called police.

Brown left before the police arrived but the victim had taken her vehicle registration number.

Officers later found stolen items in her car, including fuel cards, sunglasses and the laptop.

Reviewing reports on Brown, a mother, Judge Matenga said she was sometimes described as loving, caring and good-hearted.

But he said she had a different side, which was manipulative and dishonest.

"You clearly have had a significant issue dealing with your substance abuses," Judge Matenga said.

"When you are in the grip of your addiction you will do anything, it seems, to get your fix."

Judge Matenga described Brown as a "recidivist spree burglar".

He said he accepted she was remorseful, but the only realistic sentence was one of imprisonment.

In sending her to prison for three years and two months, Judge Matenga said he would not give her any credit for time she had spent on electronically monitored bail, because she had offended when she was supposed to be on it.

He said he would not make an order for reparation, because her sentence meant there was no realistic prospect that she would be able to pay for it in the next three years.

 - Ric Stevens, Open Justice reporter