A THIEVING factory worker who stole thousands of pounds’ worth of tools from his employers and sold them on eBay under the name ‘Mybossisanumpty’ has received a suspended sentence.

Skilled toolmaker Kevin Smith, 54, who plundered £10,000 worth of tools from Norman Precisions, of Stroud, was given an 18-month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay the firm compensation of £17,500, as well as having £10,000 confiscated from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs and to do 250 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC told him: “If you so much as steal a pencil from your employers over the next two years you will be going to prison for a long time.”

The judge said the heavy financial penalty imposed on Smith should be “a lesson to all who steal”.

“You stole £10,000 and it has cost you over two and a half times that – and you deserve it.”

Smith, of The Bassetts, Cashes Green, Stroud, had thought he could get away with taking precision tools from his workplace – but his boss was not as much of a numpty as he thought.

Kevin Norman, managing partner of Norman Precisions, turned detective when he realised tools were being stolen.

He worked out that Smith was the only person always on the premises when the PIN numbers of other employees were used to take tools from a secure cabinet.

He called in a private detective agency, who set up CCTV around the cabinet and Smith was filmed stealing a tool.

Some of the tools in the cabinet had been security marked and they were later found at Smith’s home.

Smith – branded ‘arrogant’ and ‘greedy’ – admitted theft of tools from the company but claimed he had only taken £3,638 worth and not the total of £16,213 worth that went missing.

He also claimed he was not ridiculing Mr Norman when he named his eBay page ‘mybossisanumpty.’ That was an insult directed at his immediate superior in the firm, he insisted.

After hearing evidence in a trial of issue to determine the extent of the thefts, Judge Tabor said he was satisfied Smith had taken at least £10,000 worth of goods but he could not be sure it was as much as £16,000.

In evidence Mr Norman, whose firm employs 25 people and has been in business for 25 years, said he took on Smith as a skilled machinist in October 2001.

Smith was a highly trusted employee and the highest-paid worker in the firm, earning £14.70 an hour, as well as working a lot of overtime, he said.

Last summer, he said, he became concerned about the amount the firm was spending on tools and an investigation was launched.

Checks on PIN numbers used to take the cutters out of the cabinet revealed that several workers had apparently been responsible.

But when those workers were questioned they said they had not used any of the cutters for a year. It became obvious that someone was using the PIN numbers of other workers to steal the tools, he said.

Checks of the clocking-in records were made and they revealed Smith was the likely culprit because he was always at the factory when tools were taken, Mr Norman said it was well known at the factory that Smith was an eBay trader so he started making checks to see if anyone was selling tools on eBay like the ones that were going missing.

“We found an eBay shop called ‘mybossisanumpty,’” he said. “It was a term Kevin often used at work.”

He told the court he made a test purchase of a computer game from the ‘mybossisanumpty’ shop, which was based in Leeds, where Smith’s daughter was a student. When the game arrived they noticed it had been posted in Stroud and the return address was Smith’s.

At that stage, said Mr Norman, they felt certain Smith was the thief. While he was on holiday a secret CCTV camera was set up and when Smith returned it filmed him taking two cutters.

Smith’s solicitor, Sabhia Pathan, said he has found a new job with another engineering company locally and they prize him highly because he has helped treble turnover.

The firm would suffer if he went to jail, she said.