Businessman stole from shop to sell on eBay

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A company boss was caught selling stolen stock on eBay after stealing from a neighbouring business, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Thomas Smith stole top-of-the-range barbecues over a number of weeks from the Spalding premises of Garden XL which operated in a warehouse alongside Smith’s firm Maxitrade.

Steven Coupland, prosecuting, said the thefts were discovered after the boss of Garden XL heard a noise coming from his premises after arriving early at work.

Mr Coupland said “He noticed some of the barbecues inside his premises had been moved.

“There was no sign of forced entry. He approached the defendant who was in his premises. The defendant appeared nervous and shaking.”

The owner of Garden XL became more suspicious after a customer cancelled an order saying she had found an identical item on eBay at a cost of £40 less.

The man checked out eBay and found the seller was Smith.

Subsequent checks revealed that barbecues worth £7,924 were missing from Garden XL.

Smith (49), of Kimblewick Lane, Spalding, admitted burglary between April 30 and May 25. He was given a community order with 300 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Mark Rhind told him “It is a tragedy when somebody comes before the court losing their good character. It is especially a tragedy when it is somebody of your age and with your work history.”

Shawn Williams, defending, said Smith had a fall from grace having been a successful businessman in the West Midlands until his premises were destroyed by fire.

He was subsequently made personally bankrupt before attempting to make a fresh start with Maxitrade.

“Maxitrade had been doing well up to the turn of the year then it fell into a number of difficulties.

“Debts were pressing and he was tempted when he saw the barbecues next door.

“He always attended work early and saw the opportunity to take two or three at a time. He put them for sale on eBay and Amazon.

“He has thrown away his good character in an attempt to raise a small amount of cash.”

Mr Williams said Maxitrade no longer operates and Smith is now working in Hertfordshire.