This teen thief is caught red-handed with his fingers in the till – by his own store’s camera.
Cameron Cross, 18, was spotted stuffing cash into a bag at the family run shop where he worked.
Cross helped himself to hundreds of pounds at a time for months, nearly putting his kind employers out of business. When the owners realised money had gone missing, police were called in and Cross charged with a raft of thefts.
But today, Jason and Sarah Minton, who own News n Booze in Leyland, blasted the criminal justice system after the teen escaped with a conditional discharge.
Cross, of Mendip Road, Leyland, was also ordered to pay back just £1,300 of the money he stole, which the Mintons claim is only a small percentage of the cash that went missing from their tills, at just £5 a week.
Jason, 40, said: “We feel completely betrayed by they whole thing.”
Cross was convicted of nine counts of theft but the conditional discharge means unless he commits another crime in the next 18 months he will not be punished.
It will take Cross five years to pay back the £1,300 – but Mr Minton is not holding his breath.
The shopkeeper, who has run the Canberra Road shop for three years, said he felt “betrayed” by both his former employee and magistrates in Leyland, who handed out the “pitiful” sentence.
The small business owner says he has been forced to lay off three other members of staff and has even had to sell the family car to stay afloat, after losing more than £8,000 from his tills over a two-month period.
He said: “It has hit us hard financially and emotionally.
“We took this lad in and trusted him and this is how he repaid us, by stealing thousands of pounds from us. Then, even though we caught him red-handed on camera, he more or less gets away with it. A conditional discharge is no punishment for what he’s done to us.
“We’ve had to sell our car and lay off good members of staff just to pay our bills because of this.
“This kind of money is a lot to a small family business.
“We are devastated.”
Cross previously featured in the Lancashire Evening Post as a Year 11 pupil at Wellfield High School, in Leyland, when he won a poster competition highlighting the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
He was hired to work part-time at News n Booze last year but from August his employers started noticing problems with the banking.
CCTV evidence later showed the teen was helping himself to around £200 a time on numerous occasions.
He pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft at Leyland Magistrates’ Court earlier this month. He admitted stealing £1,370 on six occasions but also pleaded guilty to taking “unknown” amounts on three other occasion.
The Mintons, who estimate their total losses to be more than £8,000, will not get that money back.
The cash-strapped couple have been left without their own transportation after being forced to sell their Vauxhall Astra to pay a £5,000 tax bill in the wake of the incident.
Stealing from an employer can carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail for a first-time offender but magistrates opted for a conditional discharge as he pleaded guilty.
Jason, who is originally from Stoke-on-Trent, said: “It is disgusting the victims are being punished more than the criminal. It will take us a long time to get back on our feet and he (Cameron Cross) can go on about his life as normal.”
Cross was unavailable for comment.