A man who tried to steal tools that were hidden under the canopy of a bakkie, when the vehicle stopped at traffic lights, was given a suspended prison sentence on Tuesday – on his birthday.
Brendon Pritchard, 23, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted theft, when he appeared in the Parow Regional Court, before Magistrate Constance Nziweni.
He was sentenced to two years jail, conditionally suspended for three years.
The magistrate said the court would be failing in its duty if it did not impose a sentence that would make him think twice before trying to steal again.
She warned him that the suspended jail sentence would be put into operation if he was again convicted of any offence involving theft or robbery, perpetrated during the period of suspension.
The suspended prison sentence had to “hang over his head like a Sword of Damocles”, in order to remind him of the consequences if he continued on a career of crime, she said.
She said people like Pritchard, who preyed on motorists who had to stop at red traffic lights, had to be stopped in their tracks.
Prichard told the court that he and a friend approached the stationary bakkie, hoping to steal whatever was under the canopy, without the driver noticing.
His friend managed to help himself to tools, and Pritchard was about to help himself also, when the driver did notice them and got out of the vehicle to stop them.
The friend managed to escape, but the driver caught Pritchard and called the police.
Prosecutor Barry van der Berg said Pritchard was a first time offender, and had no previous convictions.
This indicated that he was at the very start of his career of crime, and he had to be stopped before he became a hardened criminal, as serious crime always started with petty offences.
He said he had studied Pritchard’s profile, and it seemed that Pritchard was currently only starting out on something that, hopefully, could be stopped.
The magistrate said Pritchard would never have been brought to book, had it not been for the vigilance of the motorist.
She said motorists needed to focus on the ordinary hazards of the road, let alone be ever on the lookout for prowlers waiting for an opportunity.
She said Pritchard had already spent six months in custody, awaiting trial, and in his case the mitigation outweighed the aggravating factors.
Due to the nature of his offence, the court was obliged to declare him unfit to possess a firearm, she said.
– African News Agency