Pensioner sentenced for various thefts

A Mataura pensioner seems to have taken to heart the adage it is never too late to try something new.

The problem for Sharon Lillian Hrabchak, 74, is that "something new" is committing crimes.

Her fondness for collecting "knick-knacks" for her garden, as well as a dangerous driving incident that police say could have been fatal, has swelled her growing rap sheet.

Last year, on September 2, Hrabchak drove to a Burns St address and took six fishing rods from a shed at the back of the property.

Ten days later, she went to a Glendhu Rd property and pinched seven pottery plant pots of various sizes.

She returned five days later to take another.

Between September 11 and 25, she went to the rear of the Mataura Scouts Hall, emptied the contents of three planter boxes made by the children, and took them home.

On December 11, she took her neighbour’s wheelie-bin from the roadside, put it in her garage, then returned a week later to repeat the exercise with a second wheelie-bin.

Between December 11 and December 22, she drove to a vacant Main Rd property and took a large quantity of concrete blocks, taking them home to use as garden pavers.

On September 28, Hrabchak was driving on the Edendale-Woodlands Highway in wet, rainy conditions when she tried to overtake a milk tanker as another heavy vehicle approached in the oncoming lane.

Anticipating the danger, the drivers of both heavy vehicles moved left to prevent what police say could have been a fatal collision.

Hrabchak was charged with four charges of unlawfully being in a yard, and one charge of dangerous driving.

At Hrabchak’s sentencing in the Gore District Court yesterday, counsel Jono Ross said the defendant had explained she was told by someone at a shop she could go to the various properties and help herself to what could be described as "knick-knacks".

She had put the items to use in her garden, which was easily visible to passers-by, Mr Ross said.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said aside from a drink-driving conviction in 2012, Hrabchak had been a stranger to the court until 2021.

Since then she had been a regular visitor on a range of charges, culminating in a prison sentence last year.

He was struggling to understand why that was the case.

"Normally things start to taper off in your 70s, not start."

He convicted the defendant on all charges and sentenced her to four months’ community detention, and disqualified her from driving for six months.