Apr 07, 2023

Plumbing company employee made £10k selling stolen parts on eBay

A plumbing company swindler got his employer to pay for £10,000-worth of parts – then sold them on eBay and kept the money for himself.

By selling the brand-new kit online, Oxford Crown Court heard that Brian Keep was even able to make a £10 profit.

Now working as a milkman, on Thursday (May 25) the judge gave the 50-year-old six months to deliver up compensation – or risk a stint in the can.

The theft – committed between November 2021 and March last year – was only discovered when Keep's boss at Henley Heating and Plumbing noticed that his employee had raised orders with the firm's parts supplier for quotes for genuine customers that were not, ultimately, pursued by the would-be clients.

When the quotes were not pursued, the parts orders were not spiked by Keep. Instead, he kept the ordered parts for himself and sold the items on eBay.

Over five months until March last year, he raised 16 separate orders, prosecutor Neil King said.

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Keep was on sick leave when his theft was discovered and his boss was said to have suffered nightmares in the run up to confronting his employee about the dishonesty.

When he was confronted - first by his boss, then interviewed by the police – Keep claimed he spent the money he made from the eBay purchases on heroin.

Appearing before the Oxford magistrates last month, Keep, of Whitley Wood Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to theft by an employee. He had convictions for theft and handling stolen goods dating back to the 1990s, but more recently had only been convicted of possession of drugs.

In a victim personal statement, summarised by prosecutor Mr King, Keep's erstwhile employer said he suffered sleepless nights and nightmares after uncovering the theft.

The £10,000 hit to the small company's finances meant he could not be paid a bonus that year.

READ MORE: Teen taken to hospital after 'stabbing' near Cowley Road

Mitigating, Leanne Ballato said her client had managed to beat a 15-year heroin addiction. But as a result of stress at work he had relapsed into drug use, smoking heroin before and after his shift.

Keep was said to have ‘really enjoyed his job’ at the plumbing company and ‘felt awful he’d let them down’.

He claimed he had given up heroin since being found out last March and, with the help of his GP, was receiving a prescription for class A drug substitute methadone.

The defendant was now working as a milkman.

Having not floated the idea during submissions from the prosecution and defence, Judge Maria Lamb returned to the courtroom after rising to consider her sentence and deferred the sentencing until November 3.

As conditions of the deferment, she ordered that the milkman keep out of trouble, remain in employment and save up money towards compensation.

READ MORE: Teen taken to hospital after 'stabbing' near Cowley Road