Bar manager stole $48,000 worth of cigarettes

A longtime employee of an Invercargill bar has admitted to stealing more than $88,000 over a decade.

Sandra Maree Waddick, 58, appeared in the Invercargill District Court last month and pleaded guilty to two charges of theft in a special relationship.

The woman was employed at the Northern Tavern in March 2001, and five years later she was promoted to assistant manager.

This year, the Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) investigated discrepancies in the cigarette stock levels at Waddick’s workplace.

It was the defendant’s duty to enter the closing stock for cigarettes following weekly stock takes.

When she was approached by the ILT, she admitted falsifying the figures for almost 10 years by entering what the number should have been.

Following this revelation, Waddick was fired and the trust audited other areas of the Northern Tavern.

The investigation found that since May 2019, TAB betting books had not been banked.

It was part of the defendant’s duties to deposit this income, which amounted to $40,251.

Waddick explained to police that her offending gradually got worse.

She said it started when she would take a packet of cigarettes and pay for them on pay day.

That escalated to stealing two or three packets a week and ultimately she took $48,637 worth of cigarettes since 2014.

She told police she intended to pay for what she had taken but had "dug herself into a hole and she was unsure how to rectify it", the summary of facts said.

Waddick said she felt "the trust owed her" as she had worked overtime with no extra pay.

She confessed she would spend the cash she stole from the TAB book proceeds to gamble on the pokies.

The defendant also claimed other employees had been stealing from the Northern Tavern, but did not tell management to ensure her fraud would remain undetected.

She falsified stock records to hide other people’s theft too, the court heard.

Waddick has no criminal history and will be sentenced in January.