Disgruntled Sunderland charity worker burgled former employers

South Northumbria Magistrates Court in South Shields
South Northumbria Magistrates Court in South Shields

A disgruntled charity worker who was accused of theft took revenge on his former employers by breaking into their premises.

Alan Grotz stole three laptops and £340 in cash from Changing Lives, a charity which works with people with drug and alcohol problems from offices in The Old Orphange in Hendon, Sunderland.

Grotz had previously worked for the charity but was asked to leave despite being cleared of allegations of dishonesty by an internal investigation, South Northumbria Magistrates Court heard.

"The building was left locked and secure overnight," said Glenda Beck, prosecuting. "An early morning cleaner called the police after she discovered the burglary.

"Entry had been gained via a window which was broken.

"Police later recovered a fingerprint from the window which was matched to this defendant."

The court heard Grotz initially denied being involved, saying his fingerprint would have been from the time he worked in the building.

"Traces of blood were also recovered," added Ms Beck. "When the DNA evidence was put to Grotz he admitted being responsible for the burglary.

"Changing Lives said later the burglary had interrupted the service they could provide for clients, and the cash would have been used to support people in need."

Grotz, 53, of Harrow Square, Ford, Sunderland, admitted burglary on October 11, last year.

Chris Wilson, defending, said: "Mr Grotz worked for the charity for a number of years, it was his life, he often did extra hours.

"An allegation of dishonesty was made against him, despite being cleared of that by an internal investigation, he was effectively asked to leave.

"Mr Grotz took to drinking too much, and made the erroneous decision to burgle the premises.

"To his credit, he did try later to recover the items from the person he passed them on to, but was unsuccessful.

"He does have significant previous convictions, and has been to custody in the past.

"But his last offence was in 2005, and he has led a law-abiding life since then."

The bench sentenced Grotz to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, including a nine-month alcohol treatment programme, and 10 rehabilitation activity days.

Bench chairman Ken Webster told Grotz: “We regard this matter seriously due to the breach of trust.

"As a former employee you should have realised stealing from that charity would have an adverse impact on the important work it does.

"You have to realise your actions have an effect on others, not just on those you want to effect."

Grotz was ordered to pay £940 compensation to Changing Lives, and £85 costs.

The money will be deducted weekly from his benefits.