A GARAGE sales assistant stole at least £16,000 from the till because she could not afford the 100-mile round trip commute to work, a court heard.

Sonia Short, 37, ran up transactions for customers then voided them and took the money for herself at the Jet garage on Lawrence Street, York, said Nick Adlington for the prosecution.

On one shift she voided 55 transactions in eight hours. She also stole items from the shop.

But her manager became suspicious of the large number of voided transactions, checked the CCTV and saw her fraud in action.

Short, of Seaton Close, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland, pleaded guilty to theft and was given a community order with 12 months’ supervision, a three-month nightly curfew and 20 days’ specificied activities.

Recorder Michelle Heeley told her the exact amount she had stolen was not known.

The prosecution initially alleged Short had taken £37,000 in 11 months between October 2012 and September 2013. She initially denied the thefts to police, and later claimed she had taken £16,000 over five months.

The prosecution asked the judge for more time to produce evidence proving the higher figure, but the judge said they had already been granted time by another judge and decided to sentence immediately on the evidence before her.

Short will return to York Crown Court later this year for a confiscation hearing when a judge will decide how much she benefited from her crime and how much of her assets can be seized by the criminal authorities. She was sacked from the garage.

For her, Kirsten Mercer said her client needed money to pay bills and had not spent it on luxuries.

“In order to work, she was travelling 100 miles each day, causing financial problems,” she said.

“She was desperate. It is no excuse, it is an explanation how she got herself into this.”

She supported her partner who was heavily reliant on her, said the defence barrister, who handed in a letter from the partner.