Family

Melbourne man steals from funerals Werribee father Paul Pecora admits to stealing cash donations

Paul Pecora, 60, fronted Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today, pleading guilty to charges including theft and obtaining property by deception.

Pecora was jailed in 2019 for stealing from grieving relatives of a young father at a memorial service in Avondale Heights in January 2018.

Paul Pecora has pleaded guilty to stealing from mourners at a funeral. (Nine)

The thief took $7000 that was meant for the victim’s son, who has autism.

However, that incident was not the first time he had preyed on people attending a funeral, the court heard today.

Back in 2015, the Werribee man went to a funeral in Hampton Park for a man he didn’t know after seeing the notice for the event in the newspaper, in which the family asked for donations to cancer research instead of flowers.

Pecora was caught on CCTV mingling with mourners at the funeral before he stole envelopes out of the donation box and fled the church.

It is believed he got away with about $535 worth of donations.

The investigator told the court the incident was “one of the lowest acts” he had been privy to as a police officer.

Pecora has also admitted to a series of thefts at Geelong hotels this year, in which he targeted punters who had reserved their poker machines.

Pecora stole credits from reserved pokies machines. (A Current Affair)

While the punters were away from the machines, Pecora withdrew their credits and exchanged them for cash.

Using this method, he stole $237 at the Grovedale Hotel on March 24, then stole more than $800 two days later at Newtown.

The following week he managed to steal $910 at Waurn Ponds Hotel.

Pecora has since paid back the money he stole from the church in 2015.

His lawyer told the court Pecora’s continued offending was due to his ongoing gambling addiction.

The court has banned the father from all gaming venues ahead of his sentence being handed down next week.

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