WAREHOUSE manager Kevin James used his position to steal goods and sell them online, making more than £80,000.
The 39-year-old spent two-and-half years stealing goods from Wiggle, which specialises in high-end bicycle gear and is based at North Harbour Spur in Portsmouth, selling about 250 items through internet auction site eBay.
He used the money to pay off debts, but soon started using it for treats such as family holidays to Mexico and Turkey, part-exchange on a Volkswagen Passat and a Peugeot 307, laser eye surgery and home computers.
The father-of-two has been jailed for two years.
He was caught when one of the company’s suppliers saw its goods being sold as new on eBay.
They contacted Wiggle and an internal investigation found that James, of Jervis Road in Stamshaw, Portsmouth, was behind the seller’s account.
As goods-in manager James had access to new stock as it arrived and was able to smuggle out items, from wheels and GPS units, to clothing and bike components, between April 2008 and November 2010.
He made a total of £83,892 – just £450 more than the cost price – but the retail value to Wiggle would have been £152,693.
Roderick James, defending, said his client had little to show for his crimes and added: ‘It’s a mystery to him where the money went. There was no extravagant lifestyle, he’s not a gambler.’
Prosecutor Justin Gau said: ‘He said he had initially done it because of debt but then discovered this was an easy and attractive way of making money.’
James pleaded guilty to one count under the proceeds of crime act and one of theft at an earlier hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘I accept the reason for this was that your wife became pregnant, you had moved house and in a fairly short space of time found yourself saddled with unexpected debts.
‘Virtually everyone in their lives at some point or another faces that sort of problem but very few resort to the fraud you perpetrated, let alone the level of it.
‘I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for the explanation being provided.’
Chief executive of Wiggle Humphrey Cobbold said: ‘We have a policy of zero-tolerance on theft and we will, as we did in this case, work closely with the police.
‘We have a good reputation as an employer but that of course doesn’t make it any easier to bear when it happens.
‘We’re fortunate we have a close-knit group of people working for us. He had been part of the team for some time and we have taken a bit of a knock, but this won’t change the entrepreneurial spirit of the company.’