Coke can DNA helped catch Vic jewel thief

Rick Goodman

In the dead of night, Alex Laycock broke into a Victorian jewellery store through the roof, fixed a rope to the rafters and descended onto the shop floor.

He smashed three glass cabinets inside Shepparton's Thomas Jewellers before making off with a "vast array" of shiny bounty worth a "staggering" $192,837.

Laycock got away with it for a long time but a can of Coca-Cola he left at a minor burglary years earlier would eventually help police pin the 2010 jewellery heist on him.

The 33-year-old was jailed for six months in the Victorian County Court on Friday over three burglaries he committed in Shepparton as far back as 2005.

He left traces of evidence at each scene but Laycock was not charged over them until 2016, after his DNA was taken and run through an unsolved crimes database.

The judge said Laycock, who now works as an abbatoir slaughterman, burgled the jewellery store to fuel his serious drug addiction at the time.

"It was particularly well planned and well executed," Judge Gamble said in his sentencing.

"You deliberately targeted a business with high-value items and you sold them all."

Some five years earlier, while stealing a drill from a worksite, he busted open a vending machine to quench his thirst.

"Before leaving, you drank the contests of a can of Coke and left it there," Judge Gamble said.

Around the same time he also stole two drills from a Bunnings Warehouse.

But police would not crack these cases for years, until after Laycock was jailed for robbing a bank in Nagambi.

He had his DNA taken in 2014 and, after some delay in the process, his genetic fingerprint was matched to all three burglaries.

In January this year Laycock pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and three counts of theft.

Judge Gamble said Laycock, since serving his time over the bank robbery, had been free of drugs, had a supportive partner and had become a valuable worker.

He handed down a prison sentence of two years and two months but suspended most of it, ordering Laycock to serve six months in jail.

"People should be able to run their businesses without the fear that in the dead of night an offender will break in and steal from them," the judge said.

Laycock was also ordered to pay $192,837 in compensation to Thomas Jewellers.