June 20th, 2024

Rural break-in nets perpetrator one year

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 21, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 32-year-old man who helped steal $40,000 worth of items from a rural property last year has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Nathaniel David Loft was sentenced Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court, where he changed previous pleas of not guilty in relation to four counts of housebreaking with intent to commit theft and single counts of break and enter/steal firearm and possession of stolen property over $5,000, to a plea of guilty to one count of housebreaking with intent to commit theft.

In March 2021 Loft and three other people broke into a residence and several outbuildings on property near Lomond. They loaded up two vehicles with items stolen from the property, including tools, collectables, and personal identification documents, including passports.

Although the owner was not home at the time, the culprits were caught and identified on video cameras.

“What these individuals didn’t know was that (the owner) had trail cams all over his property, so the Crown was able to secure a number of 30-second videos of the theft as it was taking place,” Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox said.

Police searched a residence in Calgary later the same month and found the four individuals, as well as a majority of the stolen goods.

Loft was given credit for the equivalent of one year spent in pre-trial custody following his arrest, effectively completing his sentence. However, he must submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Data Bank, and he will remain in custody into the new year for unrelated offences.

Calgary lawyer Shaun Leochko pointed out his client struggles with drug addiction, but he has been participating in a treatment program while he’s been at the Calgary Remand Centre.

One of the co-accused, 37-year-old Tyler Lewis, pleaded guilty last week to housebreaking with intent to commit theft, and was also sentenced to one year in jail, given full credit for time served, and ordered to submit a sample of his DNA.

Lewis and one other individual had gone to the Lomond-area property a few days before the break-in committed by Loft, and stole a number of items from the home and outbuildings. They then returned a few days later with Loft and did it all over again.

“They stole everything, your honour, anything they could find,” Fox said during Lewis’ sentencing hearing Friday.

Fox noted that Lewis had a “rambunctious” period of his life around 2006 when he got into some trouble with the law, but then between 2018 and June of this year he accumulated 50 convictions, almost all of them property related plus a few drug-related crimes.

“All those things that we tend to see with individuals who have a substance abuse issue and they fund that through property crime,” Fox said.

Calgary lawyer David Nguyen said Lewis will be moving to the Lethbridge area and hopes to get his life “back on track” while he lives with a family friend.

A third co-accused, Beth Scott, also faces a charge of break and enter/steal a firearm and four counts of housebreaking with intent. She was scheduled to stand trial this month but the trial was vacated during a brief court hearing last week and her matter was adjourned to Jan. 20.

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