Margaret Player, a 46-year-old postmistress from Croxton Kerrial, has been jailed for a year. She stole £3,800 from the tills at work over a period of five months, and hatched a bizarre plot to cover up the crime: she called police and pretended to be the victim of armed robbery.
Unfortunately for her, after a huge team of officers spent hundreds of hours searching for the gunman, holes started appearing in her story.
Player took the money from tills in the Post Office in Croxton Kerrial in Leicestershire between August 2011 and January 2012. She cooked the books to hide the theft, then hit on a cunning plan to explain the loss for good. She called the police and claimed she had been the victim of an armed robbery.
The Leicester Mercury reported that the police rushed to her aid, and officers spent a total of 600 hours searching for the fictitious gunman. The team included 19 constables, a tactical firearms team, three sergeants, inspectors and forensics experts. They estimated the total cost of the search was around £14,000.
However, according to the Daily Mail, after they drew a blank, and they discovered no-one around the branch had seen anything unusual all day, their attention turned to Player. They discovered that she had asked for an additional delivery of money before the alleged robbery, and that she had told a customer that she didn't have enough cash in the branch to pay her pension. The police asked for the Post Office branch's accounts to be audited and they discovered the thefts.
In the dockUnfortunately Player isn't the first postmistress who has been found guilty of trying to profit from their position of trust recently.
In May, former Painswick postmistress, 43-year-old Karen Judd, was jailed for 12 months for stealing six parcels in her care. Sentencing her, the judge said: "What is bewildering is your absurd denials of the offences. Your actions caused alarm, disappointment and distress to the public who were expecting to receive their items in the post. Custody is inevitable."
In November last year Margaret Johnston from Grove Gardens Armargh was jailed for a year. The former postmistress was found guilty of stealing more than £12,000 from the County Armagh Post Office where she worked. She said she did it to feed her son's gambling habit.
In May last year, Anne Manger, a former Oakham sub-postmistress, was jailed for 16 months for a £114,000 fraud. She fraudulently generated cash credits in order to pay her bills.
And in March last year a Coventry sub-postmistress, Tajinder Sahota, was jailed for ten months for stealing almost £20,000. The 28 year-old from Guardhouse Road, Radford in Coventry admitted taking the money, which she'd used to repay her debts, pay her council tax, and go on a shopping spree.