Spy cameras installed by a Heckmondwike company after valuable equipment went missing showed an employee helping himself to hard drives.
James Hartley, a product assistant at Videcon in Smithies Lane, stole 1,158 hard drives worth more than £100,000, which he sold on eBay.
Leeds Crown Court heard that bosses at the firm were so concerned when stock checks showed the computer equipment was disappearing, that they put in covert CCTV cameras.
Hartley was spotted taking a box to his office, but when spot checks were made in that department, no-one, including Hartley, said they had used them.
Brian Outwaite, prosecuting, told the court that Hartley – worried that the net was closing in on him – then sent an email saying he had remembered putting some in storage. Confronted over the CCTV, he accepted stealing 20 units on one occasion but further examination of the cameras again showed him taking hard drives.
He was then invited to a second meeting with two directors and the operations manager and admitted stealing 550 hard drives which he said he had sold on eBay for £57,000.
Hartley said the money was still in his PayPal account and it was found to contain £56,919 which was returned to the firm and Hartley was sacked.
But investigation of his eBay account showed that he had stolen and sold more than he had admitted, a total of 1,158 hard drives worth £101,876.80.
He was arrested and admitted the thefts, saying he had taken the items to try to pay bills, but ended up using the money to buy a car, going out, on clothes and taking his girlfriend on an £1,800 holiday.
Hartley, 23 of North View Road, Bradford, was jailed for 20 months after he admitted theft.
Mitigating, Khaleeq Zaman said Hartley was thoroughly remorseful and apologetic and realised he had betrayed his employer’s trust.
He had worked for Videcon for six years but stupidly began stealing intending to pay off his debts.
He sold the hard drives for less than the market value but could not explain why he did not use the money on his debts as planned but instead on his own lifestyle.
Jailing Hartley, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC said prison had to be immediate, the offences had taken place over a lengthy period of time and suspicion had been thrown on others as a result of his actions.