Manager stole thousands from post office

PUBLISHED: 06:43 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 24 May 2010

A POSTmistress with money problems has admitted stealing thousands of pounds from under the post office counter

A POSTmistress with money problems has admitted stealing thousands of pounds from under the post office counter.Karen Santo, of Jubilee Road, Weston, pleaded guilty to pilfering almost £15,000 from the post office at the North Worle District Centre over a period of 12 months.The 48-year-old manager confessed to the theft of £14,700 when she appeared at North Somerset Magistrates Court. Santo, who had been working at the post office since 2001, started her thieving spree in May 2005 after she said she got into financial trouble.She admitted to pocketing the money in small amounts on a regular basis and, on one occasion, swiped £900 from the till to pay her mortgage. When Royal Mail finance investigators were called in to find the missing cash, Santo panicked and fled the scene. She sent a desperate text message to a colleague saying she was in 'deep s***' and did not know what to do.Jane Graham, prosecuting, told the court how Royal Mail auditors visited the post office on May 18 to carry out a spot-check after discrepancies showed up in takings.Mrs Graham said: "Santo brought the auditors into the post office. She left saying she had to get something from her car and did not return."Shortly after, a colleague received a text from Santo saying 'I am so sorry. I got myself into deep s***, panicked and I do not know what to do.'"Santo was tracked to her house after auditors alerted the police in Weston. Officers confiscated a number of documents and a computer from her home.Mrs Graham said: "Asked by police why she left the post office, Santo said because she knew the money had gone. She said four years ago she had lent £35,000 of her own money to a friend and it was not repaid. The money has been recovered but it was a breach of trust."David Bird, defending, said: "The money has been repaid in full. Miss Santos took out a loan on June 28."She did that because, despite what you might think, she is a woman of some integrity. She has been deeply ashamed and embarrassed. The shame of appearing in court is as much punishment as the defendant needs."Magistrates chose to send Santo to Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced on July 24 after deciding their powers of punishment were insufficient.

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