Phone tip-off helped cops snare thief who swiped Gala Bingo charity box

Gala Bingo in Pallion New Road, Sunderland.
Gala Bingo in Pallion New Road, Sunderland.
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A CALLOUS thief who bragged about stealing a charity collection from a bingo hall was caught after an anonymous tip-off.

Jason Gray, 45, had polished off a bottle of vodka with a pal when he made his regular visit to Gala Bingo in Pallion, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said that four days after the incident, on December 17, staff received an anonymous phone call.

“The caller said Mr Gray had stolen a charity collection box from the counter several days earlier and was bragging about it to various associates,” Mr Poppett said.

Staff trawled through CCTV footage and recognised Gray stealing the charity box, thought to have contained £19 in cash.

Gray, of Wilfred Street, Pallion, was arrested and told police how he had spent the money on an electricity card for his flat.

He added: “I think I tossed the box away the next morning when I woke up. I feel guilty about it. I was drunk.” Gray admitted theft.

Kate Meek, defending, said: “He is really ashamed of his actions. He is disgusted with himself.

“He goes to Gala Bingo on a regular basis and has put money in the charity box himself.

“He has an ongoing problem with alcohol. A friend came around on that morning and brought a bottle of vodka with him. He then went off to Gala Bingo as he normally does. He wakes up the next morning and there is a charity box there.

“He doesn’t recognise or accept that he bragged about it. It was his ex-girlfriend who told all and sundry. He knows he is not going to be welcome at Gala Bingo again, which is one of his main social activities and he knows a lot of people will take a very dim view of what he’s done. He was struggling with his finances and in a drunken state has decided to take this money for the electricity meter.

“He knows he is going to be a bit of a pariah in the local community, as thanks to his ex-girlfriend everyone now knows about it.”

Gray was fined £65 and told to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. He was also ordered to pay £19 in compensation to Gala Bingo.