Man admits raids on hostels

Nuisance raids on backpacker hostels around Christchurch have left a 31-year-old burglar in custody and facing a likely jail sentence.

Thirty-one-year-old Michael Allan Burgess told police he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he burgled the five premises in August. He pleaded guilty to five charges at a video-link appearance in the Christchurch District Court today.

Judge Tony Couch remanded him in custody for sentencing on January 26.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger asked the judge to order an assessment of Burgess’ suitability for a home detention sentence because the sentence imposed might be “on the cusp” of the two year jail term where home detention can be considered.

“It’s a big cusp,” Judge Couch commented, but he agreed to order the assessment.

“That’s not an indication of the potential outcome,” he told Burgess.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kathy Pomfrett said that Burgess went to the Rucksacker Backpackers in Bealey Avenue about 3am on August 26. It was not known how he got inside. Rooms were locked, but he was caught on security camera filling a backpack with food from the food boxes. He also took a portable speaker, phone charger, and mountainbike. The total value of the goods taken from guests was $500.

Early on August 26, a security camera recorded him entering the back yard of the Kiwi Basecamp backpackers lodge in Bealey Avenue. He took sweets from the reception area and beer from the fridge.

That evening, he went to the Round the World Backpackers in Barbadoes Street where stole a mountainbike worth $400. He went back to the hostel early the next morning but could not get into any rooms.

On August 27, he went to the Old Country House Backpackers in Gloucester Street, where he entered a guest house, found nothing, and tried to break into the reception area. He did not get in. He took a box of icecreams from a freezer in the laundry, and broke into the kitchen through a window where he took some food items. The items belonging to guests were worth $50.

Sergeant Pomfrett said the incident was caught on video, which led to Burgess being identified.

On August 28, he went to the Dorset Street Backpackers, which was closed. He broke in without causing damage and took a portable hard drive from reception. He wandered about inside for about 20min.

Burgess told the police he could not recall doing the burglaries because he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol but admitted that it was him on the security camera footage.

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