Grocery scammers check out court

A CHECKOUT worker who gave thousands of dollars worth of free groceries to family and friends faced Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday.

Alarna Maree Gala, 18, of Bundaberg South, admitted she purposely failed to scan $1500 worth of groceries over a three-week period in her job at Woolworths in Sugarland Shopping Town.

Her co-accused, Bianca Ann Peterson, 21, of Avoca, pleaded guilty to six charges of stealing which span from June 16 to July 5 this year when she went to the store and did not pay for large amounts of her rightful bill.

Police Prosecutor Senior Constable Fiona Ward told the court the pair first began the con on June 16 when Peterson went to checkout six where Gala was serving about 2.52pm and paid $24.02 but took groceries worth about $10 more.

The second offence occurred later that night about 6.50pm when Gala charged her co-accused $23.89 for groceries worth more than $800.

About 6pm on June 23, Peterson returned to the store and went to register 20 where Gala was working and took groceries worth more than $200 but only paid $9.70.

The pair did this three more times on June 18 and 28 and July 5, stealing about $270 worth of products.

The court heard the store was suspicious of employees stealing and they conducted an internal investigation which led to the revelation Gala had been giving free items to friends and family.

Snr Const. Ward said the value of items stolen by Peterson was almost $1300 and the store was seeking $400 for the perishable items that were unable to be recovered. It also sought $500 in restitution from Gala.

Defence lawyer Mary Buchanan said Peterson, a mother of an 11-month-old child, was very remorseful for her actions.

She said her client, who worked as a manager at another store in Sugarland, had difficulty explaining why the incidents occurred.

Magistrate Jennifer Batts fined Peterson $480 and ordered her to pay $400. She ordered Gala to serve 120 hours community service and pay $500 restitution.

Convictions were not recorded for either of the defendants.



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