THE BOSS of an engineering firm hired a private detective to catch an employee who stole specialist tools and sold them under the eBay username ‘mybossisanumpty’.
Kevin Smith took more than £10,000 of equipment from Normal Precision in Stonehouse and used the internet auction site to sell it.
Prosecutor Virginia Cornwall said Smith, 54, was trusted, and the highest earning, employee at the company he worked for since 2001.
She said Smith used other employees’ PIN codes to access the tools before his thefts were caught on CCTV.
Kevin Norman, managing partner of the engineering firm, said Smith was one of the most highly skilled of the 25 employees.
Mr Norman told the court the company got suspicious after an increase in spend on tools, and in particular 20mm cutters worth around £157 each.
He said tools were being booked out in employees’ names, when they were not working in the factory.
Prolific eBay user, Smith, of The Bassetts, Cashes Green in Stroud, became the chief suspect and a private investigator was brought in.
Mr Norman told the court tools were being sold under the account Mybossisanumpty, registered to Leeds. But when something was ordered from it, the return address was in Stroud and it was sent in Smith’s daughter’s name, Chloe.
Mr Norman said: “We felt certain it was him, but if we got it wrong we would have been mortified so to be absolutely certain we decided to fit CCTV before going to the police.”
Cameras were set up while Smith was on holiday and Mr Norman said since he had left the company, it was spending 40 per cent a month less on the cutters.
Giving evidence Smith said he brought some of the items from a car boot sale in 2010.
He said he knew just three people’s codes to access the tools and only used one to steal from.
He told the court: “What I called the title of my eBay account was nothing to do with Kevin Norman. I would never say that. To be quite honest, he knows I would never say that.”
Judge Tabor asked him why he called it that.
“Because of someone else that worked there,” he replied.
But the prosecutor described it as “disparaging”.
“The way I saw it, it was more light hearted,” Smith said.
Smith, who was described as arrogant by Mr Norman, said: “It was a widely used term in the factory; whenever anybody made a mistake they would be called a numpty. It was never meant nastily.”
Smith admitted stealing more than £3,000 worth of tools between Christmas 2012 and August, last year, but denied taking more.
But Judge Jamie Tabor QC described Smith as a greedy man and said he had been dishonest in his evidence, stating he only used one man’s PIN code to steal, when the CCTV showed contrary.
He said he believed Smith had started stealing as long ago as May 2010 and the goods would have come to “at least £10,000” but not the £16,000 alleged by the prosecution.
The prosecution said it would be making an application for confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The judge said he would “very likely be going to prison” when he was sentenced on April 1.