A thief burgled Preston Fire Station and used a fire officer’s stolen card to splurge on scratchcards - while his victim was on duty protecting the public.
Carl Richardson, of Rose Lane, Holme Slack, Preston, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and fraud after trespassing in the city fire station on Blackpool Road, Deepdale, on April 20.
Prosecuting, Tracey Yates told Preston Magistrates’ Court, Richardson had rifled through employees’ possessions and then stole fire officer Michael Hayes’ debit card.
The 37-year-old intruder went to an Esso fuel station nearby on Blackpool Road.
The court heard he used the firefighter’s stolen card to make two transactions in order to buy Lottery scratchcards.
But the bungling thief then tried to sell them to a member of public - admitting to him that he had “bought it with a card he stole from the fire station”.
The quick-thinking member of public recognised Richardson as someone he had been to school with.
Miss Yates added: “He took the card off him and took it back to the fire station, before reporting the matter to police.”
Richardson was arrested at his home, where police officers also found several of the scratchcards he had fraudulently bought.
The defendant became tearful as his defence lawyer, James Ball, revealed he had turned back to drugs after losing custody of his children.
He said the defendant had not taken drugs for five days, and has been offered shelter and a job by his brother if he stays off drugs for a month.
The magistrates’ bench imposed a 16-week jail term, but agreed to suspend it for a year.
Richardson was also ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation order and pay £115 victim surcharge.
The chairman of the bench said it seemed like his life had started “spiralling out of control” and that he “needed a bit of help”.
But he told Richardson: “You have to help yourself, too.”
Richardson previously hit the headlines in April 2018 when he was sentenced to a three-year animal ban for ‘drop-kicking’ his pet dog.