A CHARITY shop worker stole almost £5,000 from Halesowen’s Salvation Army store.

Pauline Smith had been given a job at the Hagley Road shop despite having two previous convictions of theft from employers.

The 55-year-old was jailed for a year at Wolverhampton Crown Court after admitting the theft.

Recorder David Burns said: “This is an appalling breach of trust. The Salvation Army took a chance on you and you threw it back in their face."

Smith, of Flavell Avenue, Coseley, pocketed £4,932 over a three month period to fund her partner's heroin addiction.

The court heard she was offered a job at the shop after starting as a volunteer and had been working there for seven months when she started stealing after being given the responsibility of banking the takings at the end of the day.

Emma Wynne-Owen, prosecuting, said Smith was rumbled when paperwork relating to bank deposits went missing and investigations revealed she had taken money on 20 occasions between April and June this year.

When questioned by police officers she said she was in financial difficulties and had used the money to pay for her partner's drug habit and for living expenses.

Miss Wynne-Owen said it had been her intention to repay the money but things "escalated out of control."