A restaurant manager stole £2,500 in a scam which involved charging tips without asking customers’ permission, a court heard.
Lawrence Farmer was caught after Reds True BBQ in Leeds received complaints from customers.
An investigation revealed Farmer, 27, had been abusing his role as general manager in order to carry out the deception.
Leeds Crown Court heard Farmer stole the cash between October 2016 and February of this year at the restaurant in Headingley.
Adam Walker, prosecuting, said customers complained about being charged a gratuity on bills when they had not offered one.
The prosecutor said enquiries revealed discrepancies which showed Farmer’s offending had been “relatively sophisticated”.
Farmer, of Broxstowe Lane, Nottingham, was the only person to have access to a “wastage provision” on the till which he used to hide the offending. He pleaded guilty to theft.
Farmer told a probation officer that he had stolen the money as he was heavily in debt.
The court heard Farmer was struggling to cope with the responsibility of running the restaurant and had been using cocaine to deal with the pressure.
Marcus Waite, mitigating, said Farmer was sorry and upset for what he had done. Farmer was given 300 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £2,500 compensation.
Recorder Caroline Wigin, said: “You abused that managerial position over a period of five months in a relatively sophisticated way, ensuring that you used a programme on the till that only you as a manager could access, which enabled you to take relatively small sums from each customer, amounting to £2,500.
“Had you not had the trust of your employers, you would not have been able to take that money.”
James Douglas, co-founder at Red’s True Barbecue, said: “This isolated incident was brought to our attention following a small discrepancy with one guest’s bill. This case was promptly resolved satisfactorily with the guest at the time.
“We then made thorough investigations into the activities of the store manager, which revealed inaccuracies with the daily banking.
“At that point the manager was immediately suspended pending further investigation. Subsequently he was dismissed and the police were called to investigate this under the criminal charge of “theft from employer”. “We are appalled at the behaviour of our former manager as it has come to light that not only had he stolen from the company, but he was also accused of stealing tips from the hardworking team.
“Therefore, the £2,500 we are to receive from the court cost will be handed back to the team as reimbursement for tips taken from them. Red’s does not condone, nor will it tolerate theft of any kind from the company or our hard working team. We will always prosecute, and although we are somewhat disappointed by the final outcome, given the vast majority of his theft was from the business and his colleagues, not customers, we are pleased that he has been brought to account.”