A supermarket worker who stole nearly $20,000 worth of gift cards from her employer has been ordered to pay the money back.
Marise Te Puni appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court today on one charge of dishonestly accessing a computer system to obtain a pecuniary advantage.
Te Puni, who has no previous convictions, earlier pleaded guilty to the charge, Judge Patrick Grace said.
The offending spanned several months from mid 2019 to early 2020, during which time the Lower Hutt woman worked at a supermarket "in a position of some responsibility", he said.
She had access to the cash register system, which could be used to load money onto gift cards for customers.
"Over a period of time you collected 78 Bonfire gift cards valued at $18, 496.25 ... the remaining money was a further six gift cards worth about $1200."
In total, she stole $19, 696.25 worth of gift cards, leaving the supermarket out of pocket.
According to a probation report ahead of Te Puni's sentencing, she said she and her partner were having trouble making ends meet.
"You saw this as a means of achieving a lifestyle that you wanted to achieve," Judge Grace said.
The offending was "quite deliberate and calculated" and Te Puni was "in a position of trust" at her workplace, which the judge considered aggravating features.
He appreciated she was having trouble with supporting herself financially, "but this wasn't the way of going about sorting that out".
However, Judge Grace said Te Puni had accepted responsibility for the offending and was now back in employment in a different area.
"You made known your situation to your employer and that must be to your credit ... it takes courage to actually own up to things."
Te Puni's new employer is willing to support her through her sentence, the judge said.
He sentenced her to six months of community detention with a curfew of 8pm to 7am daily.
He also ordered her to pay the full amount of stolen money in reparation.