Sunderland shoplifter stole £3,500 of chip-and-pin readers thinking they were ‘worthless leads’

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A SHOP fitter who stole thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment to read credit cards claims he thought they were “worthless” computer leads.

Justin Oliver was refurbishing home furnishing chain Dunelm Mill’s store in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, when he stole the £3,500 chip-and-pin readers, Sunderland magistrates heard.

The 41-year-old, of Balmoral Terrace, Grangetown, had been working on the building contract with two colleagues when the shop’s manager noticed the high-value items had gone missing.

Oliver was caught in the act on CCTV, admitted responsibility, and was told to return them, prosecutor Paul Anderson said. “He said he didn’t really know what they were, that he thought they were computer leads and that they were going to be discarded.

“He was as surprised as anyone at the value of these items being £3,500. He was told to return them but didn’t and finds himself before the court.”

Oliver pleaded guilty to theft.

Anna Haq, mitigating, said: “Mr Oliver believed they were computer leads. He is allowed to take computer leads when he does shop refits. He picked the boxes up and took them home. When he realised what they were he’s then panicked and kept them.

“He’s now provided proof that his employers have taken them back to Northampton.

“The cost of the trip has been taken from his wages. It cost £152 to recover the stolen goods.

“Although this was a large amount of theft he wasn’t aware they were worth that full amount.”

Mrs Haq added that her client is on a methadone programme as well as serving a suspended sentence for benefit fraud.

He was sentenced to an 18-month community order with supervision and a 10-day education and training programme.

He was told to pay £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge.