An in-debt security guard was caught stealing from a charity jar at Bishopgarth police training school after a forensic sting.
Wakefield Magistrates’ Court heard how staff at the Westfield Road training centre noticed that bank notes had started going missing from a Royal British Legion collection jar.
Prosecutor Richard Ogden told how the jar was washed clean of all fingerprints and a log was kept of money going in.
A £5 note was inserted on February 12 but had gone by the following morning.
A record check showed the only person to have access overnight was security guard Sean Richard Pygott Dalton, 25.
Dalton, of Durkar Fields, Wakefield, was arrested and police found a bus ticket and change from £5.
He admitted taking the £5 note from the jar and £40 during the previous three months.
A subsequent forensic examination of the jar revealed only Dalton’s fingerprints were on it.
Ruth Gill, mitigating for Dalton who admitted theft, said her client had got into financial difficulty.
He became responsible for a £5,000 loan, which has since doubled.
Mrs Gill said Dalton had lost his job as a result of the offence and was now doing bar work.
Deputy District Judge Hopkinson, passing sentence, described the offence as a “severe breach of trust”.
He added: “You were put in a position of responsibility, you did exactly the opposite of what you were supposed to do by putting your hands in the charity tin and removing money which was not yours.”
The judge said he had “besmirched” the generosity of those putting money into the collecting jar for safe keeping.
He said the offence meant Dalton had lost his good character, which would make “life very difficult for you from an employment point of view and stay with you for some quite considerable time”.
Dalton was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge. He must also pay £45 in compensation to the Royal British Legion and £85 costs.