The owners of a Whanganui business who were robbed of $23,562.43 by a trusted employee have a message for any others who have been ripped off.

Tell someone about it.

Harrison's HireMaster owners Grant and Karine Harrison felt sick when they discovered their employee Ben Wright had stolen from them for more than three years.

Karine Harrison said people like Wright need to be held accountable for their actions and employers deserve to know who they are hiring.


"We want to let business owners know that we're not ashamed of what has happened to us," she said.

"It could happen to anybody. It has happened to a lot of businesses. If it happens to you, let people know about it, otherwise another business hires them and inherits the problem."

Wright was sentenced to 10-and-a-half months' home detention and ordered to pay $17,662.43 reparation in Whanganui District Court last week.

After his arrest, Wright immediately admitted to stealing the Harrisons' funds, starting about one year after he was hired by them in 2013.

Wright was able to siphon funds by using a refund card, which he did 216 times over his three-and-a-half year employment at the Churton St business.

Karine Harrison said the refunds were not customer refunds.

"What Ben was doing was using our refund card and refunding money into his own account. It was coming out of our account and into his," she said.

"Refunding is a regular thing, a daily occurrence and he wasn't refunding huge amounts. It was all in line with the bonds we take."


The refund card operates on one pin and five staff members had access to it.

When the Harrisons inquired into whether they could have multiple cards or pins, they discovered that was not an option.

Karine Harrison said that prior to the court hearing and following the outcome, many business owners have shared with the couple their own struggles.

"A lot of people keep it under the table. They're ashamed that this sort of thing has happened under their noses and that means nobody knows about it," she said.

"If we hadn't taken this guy to court, who would know about it?

"They don't take these people to court to prove what they've done because they feel it's too much work to take it further. It wasn't hard for us at all."

The Harrisons were informed of the offending through a letter delivered to them by an anonymous person who overheard Wright bragging about it.

They paid for a report that tracked refund transactions back seven years and when the data was entered into Excel, it showed several refunds going to one card.

It was Wright's. He had used it to pay the Harrisons for items he had purchased through their account, an indicator of how much they trusted him.

To make matters worse, Wright had resigned from Harrison's HireMaster a year before they discovered what he had been up to and he stole $800 on his way out.

He even purchased a bottle of alcohol for each of them before he left.

Wright had gained new employment and his employer is sticking by him despite knowledge of his offending.

Employment was a factor in Wright's sentencing, because he will be able to continue working to pay reparation after having $5900 ready to be transferred at his court appearance.