Misconduct | Worker wearing a GORILLA MASK stole thousands from employer

Worker wearing a GORILLA MASK stole thousands from employer

A Stagecoach employee clad in a gorilla mask stole £34,000 from the company’s safe in the Worthing branch.

The Worthing Herald reported that Vernon McLellan locked up the premises and set the alarm at the Stagecoach depot.

However, CCTV footage caught McLellan returning to the premises later that night to commit his “inept but desperate” burglary. It was found the employee then got his wife Louise – who at the time worked as a bus driver at another of the company’s branches - to handle the money in the midnight burglary.

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On Wednesday, the pair pleaded guilty and appeared at Lewes Crown Court for sentencing.

Prosecutor Robin Miric said: “There is CCTV at the premises which showed just after midnight a dark figure dressed in a Stagecoach suit had entered the premises.

CCTV footage

“The visible CCTV cameras were disabled by the person who had entered.

“There was a secret camera inside the vault and that showed a person wearing a mask of a gorilla.”

The court heard that it became apparent to Stagecoach staff what had happened the following morning and it was blatant to them that McLellan was responsible. It was reported that he used his personal key fob to deactivate the alarm when entering the depot.

The estimated amount of stolen cash totalled £34,698.

Burglary motive

Judge Christine Laing QC told the court that she wouldn’t continue to waste time finding out the motive for the burglary.

“You were paid by Stagecoach and you chose to repay them by burgling the premises in what was clearly a pre-planned but utterly inept burglary and there you were with your car nearby and over £17,000 of the cash within it.

“These matters are so serious they clearly cross the custody threshold.”

McLellan was given a ten-month jail sentence, suspended for two years and his estranged wife was given an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

But, it seems that this isn’t the only instance that an employee has stolen thousands from her employer.

Last November, HR Grapevine reported that Kerri O’Connor stole £6,085.28 from Fane Valley Co-Operative Society between December 2014 and June 2016. She also processed false returns to the value of £5,574.48, bringing the total loss to the company to £11,659.76.

Smaller scale employer scams

While this level of fraud may seem excessive, many employees admit to committing smaller scales of dishonesty in order to scam their employer out of a few pounds when they report their monthly expenses.

A survey of 1,000 business travellers by Chrome River found that expense fraud continues to plague HR and finance teams, as 20% of employees admitted to inflating their expenses claims so they could pocket the difference.

And, over half (56%) of those who have committed fraud have admitted to doing so on more than one occasion.

“Most people are inherently honest, and they don’t intend to defraud their employer of huge amounts of money,” comments Chrome River Co-founder and CEO Alan Rich. “More often, they’re just committing small acts that they don’t even view as ‘fraud.’ And they do it because it’s possible and they don't think anyone will notice.”

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