A Penticton man who pled guilty to a rash of thefts from laundry machines said he did what he had to do to survive.
David Frederick Martin, 42, was sentenced to 123 days of jail time by Judge Gail Sinclair Monday at the Penticton provincial courthouse for three counts of theft under $5,000, one count of break and enter and one count of mischief under $5,000. Martin received credit for the 63 days he has already been in custody, leaving him with 60 days to go followed by one year probation.
“It was done in desperation,” read defence lawyer Robert Maxwell from a letter Martin wrote. “I did what I had to do. I did it to eat and survive.”
From Nov. 6 to 23, RCMP received 28 separate reports of apartments and motels that had their coin-operated laundry machines broken into, or attempted to be broken into, to take the money inside. The total amount stolen was not able to be calculated because they did not have a coin counter on them. Crown counsel John Swanson said the coin slider in the machines was ripped out, causing a lot of damage to the machines. He said over the course of the investigation RCMP found video surveillance that helped them identify a suspect. Swanson asked the court for a six-month sentence followed with probation.
Defence counsel, who asked for a four-month sentence, said Martin was a longtime heroin addict who had been on the methadone program, and after suffering a shoulder injury the man wasn’t given the proper medication. Martin, who appeared by video, said he had received a doctor’s prescription of dilaudid to help with the pain.
Martin also pled guilty on Monday to a theft from Rona on Oct. 3 where he and a woman entered the store and each stole a power tool. The court heard the pair walked out of the contractors’ door and left in a truck, a vehicle that had been reported stolen to Penticton RCMP. Video surveillance coupled with a Rona customer who identified the pair in a photo lineup helped police in the arrest of Martin.
Penticton property management owners previously told the Penticton Western News that every time a coin-operated laundry machine was broken it was costing them between $1,000 to $2,000 to replace.