A SHOP worker stuffed thousands of pounds worth of notes in his pants from the safe.

Chris Lam was caught on camera taking the money from the Cex shop in Western Road, Brighton.

It was just months after he was sacked for stealing thousands of pounds from Cotswold Outdoor Co where he invented fake receipts.

At Hove Crown Court the 39-year-old admitted two counts of theft by an employee.

Judge David Rennie said he had been “thoroughly dishonest”, but gave Lam six months to prove his sincerity about paying back the money.

Sophie Evans, prosecuting, said Lam was a manager at the Cotswold shop in Western Road, Brighton, and stole nearly £20,000 between August 2017 and March last year.

Then within months, Lam was trusted with the keys to the safe at Cex, but stole £4,000 in cash.

Ms Evans said: “He was working as a manager at Cotswold, and he made refunds for items which on the face of it had been purchased. He was refunding to his own bank account.

“It was not reported to the police, but he was dismissed.”

Lam stole the cash from Cex in September last year.

Ms Evans said: “He was working as a shop assistant and a manager gave him the keys to the safe. He took £4,000 out and tucked it into his trousers.

“The defendant later telephoned to say money was missing. But they checked the CCTV which showed him taking it and putting it down his trousers.”

Lam, of London Road, Bognor, abused a position of trust at both shops, Ms Evans said.

He was previously jailed for four months in 2011 for fraud, and was cautioned for theft by an employee in 2008.

Jason Halsey, defending, said Lam made full admissions to the thefts at the first opportunity, and said he is currently in work, earning £23,000 per year.

Mr Halsey said: “For various reasons he has not been able to cope, and turned to dishonesty to get himself out of difficulties.”

The defendant wants to pay back the money he owes, the court heard.

Lam said: “In terms of savings, I have not much, with rent it is hard for me to save. But I can pay back money from my family and pay my mother back.”

Judge Rennie told him: “You are saying all the right things, but the evidence is rather lacking.”

The judge said he wanted to see some proof of Lam’s efforts to pay back the money.

He said: “I will not make any promises, you cannot make an argument to demonstrate he will take a responsible approach after stealing from people that trusted him.

“He is not buying his way out of prison. I will be able to gauge what happens in six months.”

Judge Rennie delayed sentence until February 13 next year.

He told Lam: “You have been thoroughly dishonest on a number of occasions in your life. You are saying all the right things, but I would say the same if I were facing prison.

“If you pay back the money it will be an impressive response that I would consider carefully.

“There may be better ways of managing your problems which led you to take stupid decisions.”