Court rejects mother's birthday theft excuse

Natalie Raeburn, 26,  of Mountain Ash Road, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of theft, unlawful assault and failing to appear in court.

Natalie Raeburn, 26, of Mountain Ash Road, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of theft, unlawful assault and failing to appear in court.

A YOUNG mother who became involved in a scuffle with store security after stealing clothes for her son’s birthday has been fined in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court. 

Natalie Raeburn, 26,  of Mountain Ash Road, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of theft, unlawful assault and failing to appear in court. 

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris said Raeburn and a co-accused, her sister, entered a Target store at the Greensborough Shopping Centre on March 21, 2013.

The pair walked into the children’s clothing section and began filling shoulder bags with clothes, which set off store alarms as the pair walked through the checkout.

Store security quickly descended on the pair. 

“A scuffle between the accused and the lost property officer broke out,” Senior Constable Harris said. 

The officer’s shirt was torn in the dispute and Raeburn and the co-accused fled. 

A police warrant for the co-accused’s Heidelberg home was issued later that day, where stolen property from another department store was found.

Defence counsel Kathryn Moloney said her client had stolen the children’s clothing for her son. 

“At the time of offending,  her son’s eighth birthday was coming up and she was financially squeezed, which has been the case for most of her life,” Ms Moloney said. 

“She didn’t want her son to know the items were stolen.” 

Magistrate Peter Mellas did not accept the accused’s excuse.

“That makes no sense to me,” Mr Mellas said.

“Lots of people are in a similar situation to you and to their credit they don’t go out and steal stuff,” he told the accused. 

Ms Moloney said her client had moved to Warrnambool and resolved to change her behaviour.

“Should offending like this occur in a small community she will become a pariah,” Ms Moloney said. “If she continues she won’t be able to provide for her child.” 

Mr Mellas warned Raeburn she would build up a reputation of being a thief. 

Raeburn was fined $860.

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