A SNEAKY supermarket worker stole iPods by hiding them in packets of cat litter.
Trusted Timothy Brookes also slipped games into boxes of low-priced groceries, then placed them back on the shelves at Asda in Leechmere Road, Sunderland.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that because the 57-year-old had already deactivated the security tags on the hidden, high-value goods, his accomplices could then come in and pay for just the cheaper products.
Brookes, who has never been in trouble before, was arrested when bosses at the store grew suspicious.
They noticed that items not usually accessible to customers had started going missing, so checked the store’s CCTV.
The court also heard how the city supermarket never got the missing property, valued at about £1,200, back.
Electrical department worker Brookes admitted carrying out the theft scam on two separate days last January.
He said he was paid just £80 for his involvement in the offence.
Judge John Milford sentenced Brookes to a 12-month community order, and ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
The judge said: “You were a trusted employee and you betrayed that trust.
“You entered into an agreement with others to conceal in items of food and cat litter valuable electrical goods, with the security devices deactivated so they could pass through the till and then be taken away.”
The court heard that Brookes, of Queensway, Tynemouth, had mounting personal debts of more than £70,000 and was desperately struggling to keep up with his repayments.
Christopher Rose, defending, said: “He is a middle-aged man of previous good character with no experience of the courts.”