A GROUP of nuns have said they are praying for the man who robbed their charity shop to feed his gambling addiction.
Anthony Anders, 23, had been working at the Park Place Charity Shop in West Street, Fareham, before returning to the shop later in the evening and clearing out the safe.
Anders, of High Street, Fareham, let himself back into the shop late on December 13 last year after keeping hold of a key he was supposed to have dropped back through the letterbox when he locked up at closing time.
He took £162 from the shop’s safe. He had only been working at the shop for about a fortnight.
Melanie Packham, prosecuting, said that after the money went missing Anders did not come into work and stopped answering his phone. He was arrested at home on December 31.
Miss Packham said: ‘At his interview he said he had spent the money on gambling machines and he has a gambling problem. He said he had spent £2,000 in two months.’
Anders pleaded guilty to one count of theft at a previous hearing at Fareham Magistrates’ Court where the bench ruled out prison time as a sentencing option.
The bench, led by chairman John Ralphs, sentenced Anders to an 18-month community order, ordered him to repay the stolen money and pay £30 costs. The money will be repaid directly from his benefits.
Sister Evelyn Cardoz said: ‘He was unemployed and looking for a job. We are a charity so we thought we would give him a chance.
‘These are the risks we take, you can’t just be suspicious about all people – at the end of the day, how can you distinguish the people who are capable of doing something like this?
‘It’s the frailty of human behaviour, it’s difficult to know who would do this.
‘As nuns we tend to look at people with compassion rather than suspicion and nine out of 10 times it works.
‘We have prayed for him as we pray for all such people.’
The shop, which opened last February, raises money for the Park Place Pastoral Centre in Wickham.
Although the rural centre is run by eight nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of St Mary of the Angels, it is open to any groups, religious or otherwise, who want to hire it out.