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An Australian judge has warned of the possible arrival of a disturbing new trend of teenagers stealing goods to finance their addiction to mobile phones. The warning came as the judge sentenced a 17-year-old thief to two years and three months on probation for a series of robberies.

Brisbane District Court heard the youth, whilst still a juvenile, was involved in a gang that stole A$30,000 in cash and goods. The unnamed Brisbane teenager pleaded guilty in July 2003 to breaking and entering into a clothing store to steal A$3,000 and one count of burglary involving the theft of A$15,000 in cash and A$12,000 in jewellery from a safe in a house.

At a sentencing hearing this week, defence barrister David Kent said the teenager had used proceeds from his crime to pay his mobile phone bill, The Australian reports. It seems unlikely that the teenage ne'er-do-well spent anything but a small proportion of his illicit income to finance his mobile addiction but nonetheless Brisbane District Court Judge David Robin was quick to warn of the arrival of a "disturbing new trend". Well, it does make a bit of a change from robbers stealing mobile phones directly.

"For the first time in my experience it appears the acquiring and financing of mobile phones is the motivation for the offence. I bet that will be the new trend – stealing money to finance mobile phones rather than drugs," Judge Robin said.

No compensation order was made against the teenager because he lacked any means of compensating victims of his crime spree. ®

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