CROOKED Tracie Squires faked a shop’s books while giving regular customers goods on unauthorised credit.
Shop manager Squires, of Avery Lane, Gosport, falsified accounts saying she banked £1,754 of £2,792 with the remainder left in the safe.
But Portsmouth Crown Court heard the owner discovered there was no cash in the safe and police were called.
There was no money as the goods had not been paid for by customers using credit at Grande Wines in Gosport.
Squires, 43, admitted one count of dishonestly falsifying an account for an accounting purpose.
Sentencing Squires to 150 hours of unpaid work, Recorder David Evans said: ‘When you completed the form you knew the £1,000 was not in the safe.’
The court heard the before the credit case came to light on April 4 the owner of Grande Wines discovered she had taken £3,500 from the firm’s safe without permission. She is paying this cash back.
After falsifying the accounts she had quit her job and the owner then went to check the safe.
Mr Evans added: ‘You committed this offence while repaying this money you had taken from him.
‘That was a double breach of trust. You repaid his initial understanding with dishonesty. No doubt you have shamed yourself in the eyes of others including the eyes of family members.’
Squires wept in the dock as she was sentenced. She had admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.
Jeremy Wright, prosecuting, told the court Squires had said the credit system was already in operation when she started at the shop.
He said: ‘Squires was the store manager of an off-licence and was running an unofficial credit system for the benefit of regular customers and also, it seems, staff.’
Mr Evans added: ‘She herself admitted in interview to a small benefit from the credit system.’
The court heard Squires believed she was being pursued for the crime because of the way she quit her job abruptly.
Speaking to The News after the hearing she said: ‘It happens in every shop with customers who haven’t got any money.
‘I want to put this behind me now.’
She added items given to customers on credit included cigarettes.
But when asked about the missing £3,500, she said: ‘It was nothing to do with me.’
Christopher Wing, defending, said she had brought in items, including a fridge-freezer, to make improvements to the shop.
Squires was also told she must pay £400 in costs.