Electrician looted three tanning salons in Belfast and Newtownabbey 'to retrieve owed money'
An electrician who looted three tanning salons on Christmas Eve in Northern Ireland claims he was seeking money for unpaid work, a court has heard.
Polish national Grzegorz Szawica, 35, raided studios in Belfast and Newtownabbey, taking £450 in cash and a number of gift cards.
A businesswoman who runs all three branches identified him on footage entering the premises before disconnecting the CCTV systems.
Szawica, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary with intent to steal.
He was remanded in custody to be sentenced next month.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard the owner of the salons discovered the break-ins on Tuesday.
Premises on the Antrim Road and Andersonstown Road in the city, along with a third outlet in Newtownabbey, had all been rummaged through and cash floats taken.
The businesswoman knows Szawica personally because he carried out electrical work at her salons over the past 10 months.
"She said that he did previously have keys to all of the shops," a prosecutor disclosed.
"However, he had returned them so she assumes he made copies of them."
Szawica initially denied the burglaries before being shown CCTV footage from the scenes.
The prosecution lawyer added: "When asked where the keys were, he said that he placed them through the letterbox at each premises upon leaving, but the victim hasn't confirmed this."
A defence solicitor told the court Szawica is a self-employed electrician whose reputation is now "in tatters".
He argued that his client carried out the raids because he was owed up to £2,000 for work carried out - a claim disputed by the victim.
"He made the extremely foolish decision to allow himself entry to retrieve monies owed," the solicitor said.
"This was quite an amateurish operation due to the fact that he was well aware there was CCTV in the properties and that the (businesswoman) knew his identity.
"He knew that he would in effect be caught, but he was that fed up with being owed money that he made the extremely stupid decision to take the law into his own hands."
Responding to those claims, the prosecution insisted that a fee of just £100 had been agreed for Szawica's services.
Adjourning sentencing, District Judge Harry McKibbin ordered a report and more details on the defendant's living arrangements.
Mr McKibbin added: "It's not far off a breach of trust case where you work for somebody."
Belfast Telegraph Digital