Car People employee stole spare keys and sold them on eBay

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A cash strapped worker at a used car dealership stole more than 150 spare keys and sold them on computer auction site eBay, a court heard.

Richard Rowe, 31, was responsible for dealing with vehicles which had been traded in for part exchange at The Car People dealership, on Calder Way.

City magistrates heard that when customers traded in their old cars they handed in two sets of keys. Rowe would pocket one and hand the other in with the vehicle to be re-sold.

Rowe, who admitted stealing 158 keys between January 2009 and November this year, sold them on eBay and made a total of £2,832.

He also admitted possessing £2,832 of criminal property and stealing a BMW car key worth £155. The court heard how Rowe, 31, of Parker Road, Horbury, also took keys for cars manufactured by Audi, Ford and Toyota. Prosecutor Karen Medley said the company checked records and discovered that 303 keys were missing. The company estimated the cost of replacing the 303 keys as £43,256.

Rowe admitted taking just 158 keys. Lucy Malpas, mitigating, said: “It is accepted that the figure of £43,256 is very high, but that was a figure that was never lost by Car People, because of course the keys were never passed on to customers.

“It has never been suggested that Mr Rowe was living any criminal or luxury lifestyle. He was in severe financial difficulties.” The court heard he had a young family and had spent the money on everyday living expenses and providing for his family.

Bench chairman Mary Clifford told Rowe, who has no previous convictions, that his breach of trust was so serious that he would have to sentenced at Leeds Crown Court at a later date. He was bailed until January 14 and also faces a confiscation hearing over the £2,832 he gained.