A TEENAGE thief cracked a combination lock to steal more than £4,000 from his devoted foster family.
The 17-year-old, who has been with the family for more than 12 years, admitted taking £100 or £200 at a time over a period of three months from the safe. In total, he pilfered £4,200 of his foster sister’s savings.
Sunderland magistrates were told the boy entered his foster parents’ locked bedroom by working out the code by how worn the buttons were. He then took the safe key which was kept inside.
Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said the foster sister had looked at the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as her brother.
The theft came to light, Mrs Smith said, when the foster mum was cleaning the boy’s bedroom and came across three envelopes with sums of money written on them. She then checked the safe to find it was empty.
The boy was arrested and told police he was addicted to drugs including ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine. He later pleaded guilty to theft.
Anna Haq, mitigating, said: “He is extremely sorry for his actions on this particular occasion and he is trying to build bridges.
“He’s been with this foster family for 12 years and he was doing extremely well in college. Unfortunately he’s got in with the wrong group of friends.
“He was exploited by his peers. He accepts he’s had some drug use but he wouldn’t accept £4,200 worth of drug use. A lot of that would have been paying for drugs for other people.
“When he first realised his foster parents had found out, he was absolutely devastated. He immediately ran away because he didn’t know how to deal with it.
“When he eventually returned, he apologised and said he would pay the money back and asked for the police to be called immediately. He’s an intelligent young man who’s just made a dreadful mistake. He does have savings of approximately £4,000 in the form of an Isa.”
Sentencing the boy to an eight-month referral order, District Judge Roger Elsey said: “This was a serious breach of trust. You were trusted by your foster parents who have done nothing but show you kindness. You repaid them by stealing from their family.”
The judge gave him until January 31 to repay the stolen money.