A senior sales assistant at a WH Smith store stole over £40,000 worth of goods from the shelves and sold them on the Internet.
Stephen Dearden carried out the deception for more than six years while working at the firm’s Lands Lane premises in Leeds city centre.
Dearden removed items such as books, computer software, stationery, ink cartridges and toys, walked out of the store with them and loaded them onto his car.
He then sold them online using his eBay and Amazon account names ‘Fogboundewe’ and ‘sdearden1’.
After he was arrested Dearden said he stole the items to pay for holiday and entertainment for his disabled mother and sister. Dearden, who worked at the store for 27 years, was caught after covert security cameras were set up in the store when his employers became suspicious.
Most of the thefts took place when he was in charge of opening the store early in the morning. He was stopped by security on April 17 last year after he was seen leaving the store with a box and then loading it onto his car, which was parked nearby on Albion Place.
Dearden, of Mirfield, immediately admitted what he had been doing. Simon Haring, prosecuting, said the total value of the items stolen was £46,253 and he had profited to the tune of £29,439. Dearden pleaded guilty to theft.
The court heard Dearden had lost his job and had now agreed to set aside part of his pension in a bid to repay the amount he stole in full.
The court also heard Dearden cared for his sister and she could suffer if he was sent to prison.
He was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and made the subject of a 12-month community order.
Recorder Paul Isaacs told him: “It has cost you dear in terms of your financial position, your reputation and your employment.”