Stamp thief funded 'first-class' lifestyle with £90,000 haul

Co-op store in Snape Hill Road, Darfield. Image copyright Google
Image caption Andrew Swales stole the stamps while employed as manager of the Co-op store in Darfield

A thief who stole £90,000 of postage stamps to fund first-class holidays and a lifestyle "beyond his means" has been jailed.

Andrew Swales, 39, pocketed thousands of first and second class stamp books while working as manager of a Co-op store, police said.

He sold them to pay for foreign trips, electrical goods and his gambling habit, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Swales, of Thongsbridge, in Holmfirth, pleaded guilty to theft by employee.

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The court heard Swales stole the stamps from the store in Snape Hill Road, Darfield, South Yorkshire, between 2009 and 2012.

He then sold the stamps to a stamp dealer in London for 70% of their face value, pocketing about £60,000 South Yorkshire Police said.

He was arrested after an internal investigation revealed large, high-value orders of postage stamps were unaccounted for.

The court heard Swales had attempted to blame a colleague but when police raided his home a large number of first and second class stamps were recovered.

Image copyright Getty Images

How many stamps can you buy for £90,000?

140,625 First Class - 64p

163,636 Second Class - 55p

Det Con Graeme Badcock said Swales had made the extravagant purchases at the expense of his employer.

"This was a lifestyle beyond his means," he said.

"There is a market for second hand stamps.

"If companies for example go out of business and they have a quantity of stamps that they want to get rid of there is an outlet to sell surplus stock.

"But, Mr Swales took advantage of that and saw an opportunity for himself to make some extra money.

"The stamp dealer sold the stamps at a value of 70% of their face value so for all Mr Swales stole he received about £60,000 through his bank accounts."

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