A man who helped "lasso" parking ticket machines and tore them from their foundations using a van to steal more than $60,000 cash has been jailed for what a judge described as a "rampage".
The County Court heard that 11 machines were targeted in suburban Melbourne and Ballarat in a six-week spree between March and April last year that netted the gang on average more than $10,000 a week.
Prosecutor Stephen Ballek said about $482,000 in damage was caused to the machines at locations from Southbank, South Melbourne, Docklands, Frankston, Bentleigh and Clayton.
Mr Ballek earlier told the court that Ahmed Said was one of three men who reversed a van up to the machines, tied a tow strap around them and attached it to the bumper bar before driving the vehicle forward at a fast speed.
After the machines were dislodged from their base, they were lifted into the rear of the Toyota Hiace van during the early-morning raids.
Said, 23, a truck jockey, of Endeavour Hills, pleaded guilty to six charges of theft, four of attempted theft and to three charges of stealing car registration plates.
In sentencing him on Thursday, Judge Chris O'Neill said imposing a suspended sentence or a community corrections order would not reflect the seriousness of the offences.
Judge O'Neill said the crimes involved significant planning and the use of disguises had caused damage and losses totalling more than $500,000.
He said Said had "reasonable" prospects of rehabilitation, accepted he had close family support and his prior criminal history was limited.
He was jailed for three years with a minimum of 12 months.
Mr Ballek said the case against one man had not been heard while the third suspect had been interviewed but not charged.
He said Said was overseas when police searched his home on April 18 last year, and they found clothing worn during the thefts, and he was arrested on his return to Australia in July.
Defence barrister Ashley Halphen described the offences as "sadly another example in this court of a young man derailed by the savage grip of ice".
Mr Halphen said Said had appeared four times previously in court for other offences and that he had been "smoking ice daily at great expense" which reflected, on his client's instructions, the "brazen nature" of his latest crimes.
"All benefits to him [from the thefts] came in the form of ice," he said.
Mr Halphen said that after spending an initial 22 days on remand, and with the benefit of the Magistrates Court integrated services program (CISP), Said was now "highly motivated", drug free and had cut ties with previous associates.
His older brother had been "assigned as a family supervisor", he said, and with the other changes, it went a "long way to accepting the proposition he has redeemed and salvaged himself".
Mr Ballek had submitted that an immediate jail term was the only appropriate sentence, highlighting Said's prior criminal history, the degree of planning used, use of disguises and the cost of the damage caused to the machines.