Ipswich Argos employee attempted steal iPhone 7 in Paw Patrol lunchbox

Argos Extra at the Suffolk Retail Park, Ipswich

Argos Extra at the Suffolk Retail Park, Ipswich

A hard-up Argos shop assistant tried to steal a £700 iPhone from his store by hiding it in a Paw Patrol lunchbox he bought for his son.

Aden Sheppard, of St Matthew’s Street, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court to theft by employee of an iPhone 7 worth £699.

The offence occurred on November 30 at the Argos store at Suffolk Retail Park in London Road.

Prosecutor Lucy Miller said during the evening members of staff were closing the store. Some were selecting items to buy for themselves.

Sheppard wanted to buy a Paw Patrol lunchbox for his son and had paid for it.

He then went to go upstairs to get the item, but was told a colleague would accompany him.

Mrs Miller said the lunchbox was hanging off a coat peg waiting to be collected.

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Sheppard’s colleague asked to look at the lunchbox and discovered it was heavier than it should be. Inside was the iPhone.

Magistrates were told Sheppard’s immediate reaction was: “Who put that there?”

However when interviewed he admitted attempting to take the iPhone without paying.

Dino Barricella, representing Sheppard, said: “This is out of character.”

The court heard Sheppard had been employed at Argos on a part-time basis since July last year. He was offered a 15-hour a week contract which sometimes meant he was earning no more than £500 a month, although on some weeks he worked longer hours enabling him to earn between £700 and £800 a month,

Mr Barricella said Sheppard’s rent was £360 a month, and he has a child he contributes towards.

Mr Barricella added: “He was down on his luck and has run up in excess of £2,000 debts.”

Magistrates were told Sheppard is now seeking help with his debts and the offence was not influenced by getting money to feed any addictions.

Mr Barricella said: “This is purely that he ran up debts because he only had a part-time job.”

Sheppard was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a 180-hour unpaid work requirement.

He must also pay £85 costs and £85 to the victims’ fund.