Edward Coughlin, a 33-year-old from Bootle, has been jailed for two years, for stealing £50,000 from Asda. Coughlin ran the Goose Green branch in Wigan, and used a surprisingly low-tech approach to syphon off an incredible amount of money.
Coughlin had been coming into the store early to empty the self-scan machines. He would take some of the money, and then doctor the rest of the cash by inserting pieces of paper into bundles of notes, before storing them in the store's safe.
%VIRTUAL-ArticleSidebar-crime-stories% The Liverpool Echo reported that he was working with 34-year-old chief cashier Deborah Croft from Wigan, whose job required her to check the contents of the safe using an electronic cash counting machine. She would override the machine to make it look as though the correct money was there, and take it to the bank. She then manipulated computer records to cover the dishonesty.
The plan was foiled by a fellow employee, who spotted the doctored cash bundles in the safe. She reported it to Coughlin, who told her to sign the check sheet to say it was all normal, and that he would get the senior cashier, Croft, to check. Croft later told the employee that everything was normal, but she smelled a rat and reported them. An area manager came to the store and Croft confessed.
According to The Mirror, Croft said the pair had been in a secret relationship and Coughlin had pushed her to help him with the thefts. The judge said: "You ensnared her (Croft) and corrupted her into your wrongdoing. She overrode her natural sense of decency and honesty." She was sentenced to eight months - suspended for 18 months - reflecting the fact that she didn't profit from the scheme, and had lost her career as a result of it.
Coughlin said he had been taking the money for nine months because of gambling debts, but said he was married and that he and Croft were not having an affair.
It's always shocking when someone in a position of trust uses it for their own gain, but it's not the first time that gambling debts have forced someone to commit a crime like this. An estimated 350,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem of some description, and every year several people are jailed because they turn to crime to fund it.
We reported in March on the Cambridge University clerk who had stolen more than £285,000 from the college to pay for her addiction to an online bingo and fruit machine site.
Earlier that month a former serviceman was sentenced to 16 months by Durham Crown Court, after he admitted stealing £30,000 from customers while working for a security firm - to fund his gambling addiction.
And back in February a gambling addict from Bradford was jailed for two years after stealing £230,000 from his employer to fund his gambling addiction.
In May, Paul Robert Benson, a 24-year-old from Lurgan, stole groceries from his local supermarket. He might have got away without being identified, if he hadn’t decided to wear a Manchester United top with 'Benson 22' written on the back.
The judge sentencing him to 12 months probation said that he might as well have had a neon sign on his back.
In January, Scott Tinsley, a 38-year-old from Cobridge in Staffordshire, was jailed for 40 months after admitting burglary.
He broke into a property in the middle of the night, took electrical items, and put them in a garden a few doors down. However, he then started feeling a bit peckish, so he popped back to the property to make himself a snack. Then he promptly fell asleep - and was discovered by the homeowners in the morning.
In September 2014, a drunk burglar in the Chinese city of Suqian, talked himself into a corner.
He broke into a fifth floor flat on the mistaken assumption that it was empty, and was quickly caught by the owner’s ten-year-old daughter. When she asked what he was doing there, he decided his best defence was to say that he was Superman, and was about to fly back to his secret headquarters.
She told him to prove it, so the burglar stripped to his underwear and jumped out of the window. He told police from his hospital bed that it had seemed to make sense when he was drunk.
In July 2014, Stewart James Wright, a 37-year-old from Middlesbrough, thought he’d stumbled across the perfect crime.
He saw the door open at a student house, so wandered in and simply picked up their 42-inch-TV. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't really thought through his getaway plan.
He’d travelled to the area by bike, and was stopped by police cycling along a nearby road, trying to balance the TV on the handlebars. He was on bail at the time for stealing a bike.
In June 2014, Jamie Neil, a 41-year-old from Bethel in Cornwall, was jailed for robbing a petrol station in St Austell.
His plan to disguise himself by putting a plastic bag over his head would have worked better if he hadn't chosen a completely transparent one.
In June 2014, Nigel Ball, a 52-year-old from Wakefield, was found guilty of stealing a fish tank from a pet shop. He was caught after going back to the store to buy fish to put in it, and when staff asked him what sort of tank he had, he pointed to the type he had just stolen.
He had to complete a form with his contact details in order to take the fish, so police tracked him down to his home where they found the stolen tank.
In October 2013, a man from Perth tried to rob a corner shop, and was foiled by his trousers.
He took the till, and tried to run away with it, but his trousers were so loose they kept falling down. In the end he was forced to drop the till so he could hang onto his trousers. In the confusion he also dropped his knife and a pair of gloves, and a police dog used them to track him down. He was jailed for three and a half years.
In February 2013, a man in the Washington suburb of Laurel concocted a flawed plan to rob a bank.
His big mistake was failing to bring a bag, so he dropped the cash on the floor. He stopped to pick it up and put it in an open umbrella. Unfortunately for him, while he was held up collecting the money, the police deflated the tires on his car.
He tried to escape on foot, but slipped on a patch of ice and banged his head: at which point he gave up.
In January 2008, a man from Louisiana decided to rob a seafood restaurant. He forgot to take a disguise, so he picked up a bucket that was lying nearby and put it on his head.
The slight drawback to his disguise was that he wasn’t able to see, so he kept blundering into thing. He also had to keep lifting the bucket up to see where he was going. The security camera was therefore able to glimpse his face, and the man was identified, arrested and charged.
In September 2011, a woman from Manchester tried to steal several hundreds of pounds worth of booze from Asda in Oldham.
She loaded up the trolley, and walked out of the shop without paying. She managed to get to her car and load it up before staff caught up with her.
Sadly for her, when she jumped in the car to make her getaway, she realised she had run out of petrol. She was caught trying to push the car into the petrol station.