June 16th, 2024

Multiple petty thefts result in 30 day sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 25, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 37-year-old Lethbridge man caught stealing from numerous businesses to support his drug habit has received a short jail sentence.

Robert Allan Moczo was sentenced to 30 days in jail after he pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court to eight counts of theft under $5,000, and one count each of obstructing a peace officer, breaching a release order and breaching an undertaking.

The Crown had recommended Moczo receive a 60-day jail sentence, but Judge John Maher, who said a “nominal” custodial sentence was warranted, accepted a defence recommendation for 30 days.

“I think that 60 days is perhaps somewhat higher than is justified in the circumstances,” Maher said.

In early 2020 Moczo was caught stealing a pie and two blankets from a city business. He had stuffed one of the blankets under his sweater and another in his pants and attempted to leave the store without paying. While the blankets were recovered, the pie was “smushed,” Crown Prosecutor James Rouleau told court.

Then on March 27, 2020, police received a complaint from Shoppers Drug Mart that Moczo had stolen a $260 bottle of cologne, which was never recovered.

Later in the summer, on Aug. 30, Moczo was trespassing at Value Village on Mayor Magrath Drive South. Police arrived and told Moczo, who had already left the store, he was under arrest for trespassing, and they could tell he was holding items under his jacket. During a search they found him with several hats and a pair of boots stuffed down his pants, worth a total of about $65.

Moczo was released from custody following his arrest, with a condition prohibiting him from returning to the store. However, on Dec. 4, 2020 he returned and was charged with breaching an undertaking.

On Nov. 2, 2020 police were called to the Park Place Shopping Centre where a loss prevention officer informed them Moczo had stolen from Shoppers Drug Mart two boxes of perfume worth $56. Then, three months later Moczo was at Marks Work Warehouse on the northside where video footage showed him selecting a $169 pair of shoes and later walking out of the store wearing the shoes. They were never recovered.

On Aug. 14, 2021 Moczo was back at it again, this time at Peavey Mart on the southside. He walked to the power tools, looked around, then cut the security cable attached to a $900 impact wrench. He concealed the impact wrench under his jacket and walked out of the store.

During an unrelated investigation the following November, police stopped a man and woman who were rifling through an outdoor donation bin and told them they were committing theft and mischief. Moczo claimed police had already told them it was OK, then he and the woman jumped on bikes to leave.

The woman, who gave police a false name, stopped when ordered to, but Moczo, who also gave police a false name, began to ride away and only stopped when the officer pulled out his Taser. During a search police found a small amount of fentanyl and a knife. Moczo was charged with obstructing a peace officer by providing a false name.

On April 12 of this year Moczo was back at Peavey Mart where he selected two rechargeable batteries worth $380 each then walked out of the store.

The following month, while on a previous release order that he not go to Value Village, he was again caught there. Also, while still on a release order prohibiting him from going to Value Village, Moczo went to the store on Aug. 10. Police were informed Moczo was trespassing again and stealing items worth about $150.

Rouleau told court Moczo stole the items so he could sell them for between five and 15 cents on the dollar to support his drug habit. He suggested jail is necessary to denounce his behaviour and deter him from repeating the offences.

“It has to come home to this individual that this volume of charges, even though they’re on the lower end – some can be described as nuisance-type charges; there’s no violence, all property related – it has to come to an end.”

Lethbridge lawyer Marcus Mueller pointed out his client has maintained an “excellent career” as a tradesman in a number of disciplines but he suffers from substance abuse which began when he was about 21 years old after he was prescribed medication and developed a dependency.

Although the Crown suggested a longer jail sentence is necessary to send Moczo a message about his behaviour, Mueller said Moczo has had time while in segregation and on suicide watch to reflect on his life’s choices.

“Respectfully we suggest that message has been sent and that message has been received wholeheartedly,” Mueller said.

In addition to his jail sentence, for which he was credited 21 days spent in remand, leaving him nine days to serve, Moczo will also be on probation for one year. During that time he must be assessed and take counselling and treatment for substance abuse and for the trauma he has suffered in his life.

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12 charges, 30 days, one man pilfering crew, no wonder the police yawn. It’s the courts!!!!! All victims have loss prevention costs built into the price you pay.