Used car firm worker who stole 158 keys

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A SUPERVISOR at a used car dealership stole more than 150 spare keys and sold them on eBay during a four-year-long scam, a court heard.

Richard Rowe worked as a hand over supervisor at the Car People on Calder Island Way, Wakefield, and was responsible for dealing with cars which customers had traded in.

Magistrates at Wakefield heard that when customers handed in two sets of keys, Rowe would take one for himself and hand the other in with the vehicle to be re-sold.

Prosecutor Karen Medley said the company checked records after Rowe’s crimes were exposed and discovered that 303 keys were missing.

Rowe, who admitted stealing 158 of the 303 keys between January 2009 and November this year, sold them on eBay and made a total of £2,832. He also admitted possessing criminal property in connection with the £2,832.

And he pleaded guilty to stealing a BMW car key worth £155.

Rowe, 31, of Parker Road, Horbury, also took keys for cars manufactured by Audi, Ford and Toyota.

Mrs Medley said: “He has always admitted the offence.

“He said he had been on a debt management project and three years ago had a little boy and that had made things hard financially.”

She added: “My understanding is that the purchasers bought a car with one key and accepted there was only one key.”

The court heard Car People calculated the cost of replacing the 303 keys as £43,256.

Mitigating, Lucy Malpas said: “It is accepted that the figure of £43,256 is very high, but that was a figure that was never lost by Car People, because of course the keys were never passed on to customers.

“It has never been suggested that Mr Rowe was living any criminal or luxury lifestyle. He was in severe financial difficulties.”

Bench chairman Mary Clifford said that Rowe’s breach of trust was so serious that sentencing would have to be dealt with at crown court.

Rowe, who has no previous convictions, was granted unconditional bail ahead of his sentencing hearing at Leeds Crown Court on January 14.

He also faces a confiscation hearing in relation to the £2,832.

Peter McNestry, chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust

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