END warehouse worker stole more than £100k of 'high-end' items in just over six weeks

A warehouse worker who stole more than £100,000 of "high-end" items in just over six weeks has kept his freedom.

Wakas Hussain was tasked with picking and packing goods at the END. warehouse in Washington, which specialises in designer clothing, jewellery and trainers, but took the opportunity to steal.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he claimed he had no intention to sell the stolen property and did it to distract himself while feeling isolated during the covid lockdown.

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Suspicions has been raised in February last year after bosses became aware of a delivery to an address in South Shields, which had been returned with no delivery note enclosed.

Wakas Hussain.

Inquiries revealed that between December 2020 and February 2021 there had been 29 deliveries to the same address - none of which showed on the company system.

Further investigations showed reference numbers for the orders had been manually inputted rather than automatically generated, as they would have beenif they were genuine.

Shift patterns were examined and three potential culprits were identified, including Hussain.

During their investigation, it then came to the attention of bosses another order had been made in a similar way and they caught Hussain in the act ofhanding a parcel to a delivery driver for the same address, containing three pairs of trainers worth £700.

Police were informed and it transpired the address was where Hussain's then-partner's mother lived, who knew nothing about the scam.

He had told her he needed to have items delivered there as he couldn't have them sent to his own home as he was an employee.

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The total potential value of the items if they had been sold was £105,333 and the wholesale value which the company paid was £40,268.

The items were all found at Hussain's home and seized by the police.

In a business impact statement END., which is owned by Ashworth and Parker Limited, said: "One can't underestimate the level of emotional distresswhen it's found a previously trusted member of staff has abused this trust and caused damage to the business."

Hussain, of Tamworth Road, Arthurs Hill, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to theft from employer and was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years with a community order and 200 hours unpaid work.

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Sophie Allinson, defending, said Hussain is remorseful and has now got a new job and his employer, who is aware of the case, provided a reference.

She added: "He was feeling isolated at the time during the covid lockdown and there were family health issues.

"He was trying to distract himself with high-end goods he couldn't afford on his own salary.

"He appears to have had no forward thinking about what he might do when he took them, which is evidenced by the fact they were all at his property. There's no evidence he planned to sell them on.

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"It's entirely pointless offending and he has ruined his good character for nothing - he has made no gain or profit. His family are utterly appalled by what he has done."

Mr Recorder Tom Moran told him: "The company were extremely disappointed in your behaviour and feel very let down.

"This caused significant distress in the company and a significant cost in time and money and they changed their systems to prevent somebody acting sodishonestly in future.

"You said you began to steal as a distraction from your family problems but that seems to make very little sense. You did have family problems at the time. Why that would cause you to steal that property is another matter.

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"In stealing it, you must have had some intention of doing something with it. I have to infer you intended at some point to sell it on but you had not got round to it."