New Look shop assistant staged theft scam with shoplifter
A NEW LOOK shop assistant fleeced her own store of more than £1,000 in clothes by working in tandem with a shoplifter.
In a complicated scam, Wendy Atkins, 50, of Kingsway, Wallasey, removed magnetic alarms, pocketed cash and hid goods behind the counter at the Liscard department store.
She kept in contact with shoplifter Caroline Crawford, 35, of Buckingham Avenue, Bebington, by mobile phone, planning handovers of shoes, bags and boots in which no money changed hands.
The pair pleaded guilty to theft, and in Atkins’ case theft by employee, at Wirral magistrates court yesterday.
The court heard managers at the store grew so concerned about the books not adding up, they brought in a “retail loss prevention auditor”, a specialist in monitoring shoplifters.
During October last year, Shirley Watwood monitored Atkins closely, creating a damning dossier of video evidence which also snared Crawford.
Lionel Cope, prosecuting, told the court how during one taped incident, Atkins was seen de-tagging items, placing them in a New Look bag, and putting a packet of tights beneath a keyboard.
She was then seen going to the fitting room. Crawford was later observed with items identical to the ones seen with Atkins earlier.
None were put through the till.
In another incident on October 9 last year, Miss Watwood observed a refund of £87 between the pair, which also was unaccounted for.
New Look managers put the cost of weeks of theft at £1,196.
Mr Cope said: “Mrs Atkins was suspended and questioned, denying it at first.
“Then she said she had on a regular basis handed over goods to Ms Crawford and some of them were for herself.
“She phoned back to say words had been put in her mouth and resigned shortly afterwards.”
Atkins was tearful throughout and when asked her name was initially unable to speak.
John Weate, defending, said: “You can see the effect on her, in that she was unable to answer a direct question. She is suffering from depression.
“My client is a lady of previous good character.”
Chris Murphy, defending Crawford, said: “She is of good character, has a child and is in a long-term relationship.”
Both Atkins and Crawford will be sentenced on June 11. Liverpool Echo