Daring burglar undone by investigation

A daring night time burglar was undone by a fingerprint, a Facebook post, and by failing to change his clothing after an afternoon cafe visit where he scoped out the premises.

Adam Shay Sparks, 35, had a distinctive method with the three burglaries that have now earned him a three-year three-month jail term.

He would target offices by cutting his way through the roof and then going down through the ceiling, and taking safes.

He would hit the businesses on Sunday nights, hoping to get much of the weekend takings.

That worked. In night time raids on a café at The Tannery, in Woolston, a pet store, and a bakery, he got well over $10,000 cash.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders found him guilty at the end of a judge-alone trial on October 12. The judge described them as “sophisticated, premeditated burglaries”. He was remanded for sentencing which has now taken place.

A photograph was presented in evidence at the trial which had been posted on Sparks’ Facebook page, but apparently not posted there by him. It showed a Mercedes Benz with a stolen safe in the boot, and it was captioned, “Late nights in a Benz.” (Pictured)

Another car used in the offending, which had been unlawfully taken, was found with his fingerprint in it.

The police case also included security camera footage in the cafe, which Spark visited during a Sunday afternoon with his girlfriend.

That night, The Tannery’s outside security cameras caught pictures of someone jumping off the roof after the burglary, and leaving the scene wearing the same clothing that Sparks had been wearing in the afternoon cafe visit.

Defence counsel Peter Dyhrberg said that Sparks apologised for what he had done. He had been “not himself” at the time, under the influence of drugs and struggling with a significant methamphetamine habit.

The burglaries occurred about a week after he arrived back from living in Australia in 2015. He had been in trouble there, but he had not been deported. After his arrival he was introduced to some “not helpful” company.

Judge Saunders said he had no doubt the burglaries had been committed to support his drug habit.

Sparks’ parents were in court, telling the judge their son was “an important part of our family – fiercely loved”. They had encouraged him to return to New Zealand to get the help he needed.

His father, John Sparks, explained that Adam Sparks had emerged from hospital with a drugs habit after a motorcycle crash in 2012 in which he had received many broken bones and nearly died. He had been in a coma for 10 days. The drugs dependency arose from the pain medication he was given.

During his time on bail he had taken positive steps, including going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He had really turned himself around, and was doing well.

Judge Saunders told Sparks: “I accept that you are now in a very different head space than you were in 2015.”

He had been in trouble before leaving for Australia, and had offended there as well, but the accident was the reason he became involved in drugs.

He said the support of his family would be a factor that the Parole Board would consider ahead of his release.

He noted Sparks already had unpaid fines totalling $17,268, and said he would be unable to pay reparations because of the three-year three-month jail term being imposed, so he made no order.

Speaking after the sentencing to the investigating officer, Judge Saunders said it had been “a good investigation, well put together”.


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