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Sales clerk who stole £16,000 from Heathrow store given suspended jail sentence

News   •   Aug 16, 2019 12:53 BST

Russell Libranda

A former Boots employee who pocketed £16,000 cash from the till as he served customers has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, today, Friday, 16 August. 

He was also ordered to pay £2,000 compensation.

Police and store security trawled hours of CCTV footage to compile 130 clips of Russell Libranda, 42 (26.04.77), a Spanish and Filipino national of Hanworth Road, Hounslow, pocketing cash for a month.

Security at the Heathrow Airport branch where Libranda had worked until he resigned on 9 November 2018, reported him to police on 28 November, after becoming aware of a shortfall in takings, and spotting his criminal actions on CCTV. 

Detectives from the Met Police Aviation Command’s Crime Squad arrested Libranda within three hours, and executed a search warrant at his one-bedroom flat.

Investigating officer, PC Jon Houston, said: “When we arrived at Libranda’s flat it was patent that he had been living well beyond the means of a shop assistant. Libranda had evidently been living in a lavish fashion. His flat was packed with designer clothes and jewellery, numerous iPhones, computers and an expensive TV. We also found a shoulder bag, filled with £6,000 in cash, down the side of his wardrobe.”

The officers seized the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act and it was subsequently forfeited.

Libranda transferred to the branch on Saturday 13 October 2018. Over that weekend, he stole almost £700.

PC Houston said: “Libranda’s confidence quickly escalated. In his first full week at the branch he stole £3,500 and by week five he was taking almost £5,000. When I watched the CCTV I was stunned to see he was doing this in view of customers and colleagues, who were distracted.”

On 4 June Libranda pleaded guilty to one count of theft by employee, relating to all £16,191 he stole.

PC Houston said: “The sad reality is that sometimes staff at shops try to steal from their employers, but the security at this store did an excellent job of identifying Libranda as the perpetrator once they were aware that something was amiss.

“The Met has a really strong relationship with Heathrow Airport and the companies operating there, so staff have the confidence to report any suspicious activity to us. We continue to work closely with security across the airport, to keep it safe from all types of crime, including thefts like these.”