Man jailed for ‘theft tour’ after hitting three Ballina shops

A 19-year-old Romanian man who has been ‘touring the country stealing from businesses’ was sentenced to three months in prison for three separate thefts at various Ballina outlets last October.

His female accomplice is to carry out 80 hours community service in lieu of a three-month sentence.

Paul Duca and Maria Laufer, both with an address at 4 Bridge Street Apartments, Graiguecullen, Carlow, pleaded guilty to three charges of theft at Ballina District Court on Tuesday.

Inspector Tom Calvey told the court that gardaí were called to Shaws Department Store, Garden Street, Ballina, on October 17 last.

Garda Paul Harte spoke with the security guard who reported a male and female leaving the shop with a bottle of Dolce and Gabbana aftershave, valued at €80, and three bottles of John Paul Gaultier perfume, valued at €200, without paying for the goods.

The defendants also took perfume valued at €100 from Boots, Pearse Street, and perfume valued at €106, and a €50 dress ring from McKanes Pharmacy, O’Rahailly Street.

Inspector Calvey said the defendants were arrested at a local hotel as part of a Garda operation.

The court heard Duca has 12 previous convictions for theft from district courts in Gorey, Waterford and Kilkenny.

Laufer has no previous convictions.

Duca said he took the items to gift to family and loved ones.

Judge Grainne O’Neill directed that Laufer be assessed for suitability to carry out 80 hours of community service in lieu of a three-month jail term.

In the case of Duca, who has already received two suspended prison sentences, Judge O’Neill said sending someone to prison is “always a last resort”.

“It is not something I take lightly,” said the judge. “But he has been touring the country stealing from businesses when people are already finding it hard to make ends meet. He has been given several chances and hasn’t taken them.”

The judge imposed a three-month sentence in relation to each of the three theft charges, with the sentences to run concurrently.

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