Police exhibits officer who blamed the menopause after she stole £15,000 of seized cash
A police exhibits officer who stole £15,000 of seized cash from an evidence store to fund her online shopping addiction and then blamed it on being menopausal has been jailed.
Lisa Arnold, 52, started stealing money from the safes at Dorset Police headquarters in 2018.
Over the next four years she used her position to plunder wads of notes on 17 separate occasions – totalling £14,494.
She targeted envelopes containing uncounted cash, carefully slicing the bottom open to remove wads of notes before resealing them with Sellotape.
Lisa Arnold (pictured), 52, stole £14,494 of seized cash over four years and blamed it on the menopause
She would often visit the stores at the HQ at Winfrith, near Dorchester, outside of working hours.
Despite two investigations into money going missing from the station Arnold didn’t stop stealing from the evidence stores until she was caught on March 19, 2022.
Her colleagues found that cash had gone missing from 17 envelopes which had previously been counted, while 41 others had been tampered with.
Officers searched her home in Swanage, Dorset, and found £15,000 worth of cash piled in the bottom of her wardrobe.
When she was arrested, Arnold admitted to using the money to pay off debt for an online shopping addiction which she developed after her marriage broke down.
Arnold appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court having pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by an employee at a previous hearing.
In jailing her for two years, Judge Susan Evans KC said her actions had a ‘devastating impact’ on public confidence in police which warranted an immediate custodial sentence.
Despite two investigations into money going missing from the station Arnold (pictured) didn’t stop stealing from the evidence stores until she was caught on March 19, 2022
Stuart Ellacot, prosecuting, said Arnold had stolen a ‘minimum sum’ of £14,494 – but that the actual amount paid into her bank account and credit card during the period was far higher.
He said: ‘The background to this case is that the defendant was an employee of Dorset Police in the exhibits department
‘The theft relates to cash exhibits which had been seized by Dorset Police during investigations.
‘Initial concerns were raised in June 2018 when officers found that a bag had been tampered with. Further bags were found in February 2021.
‘An audit was carried out and they found a number of bags which had been tampered with.
‘There was an investigation into the finances of staff who could have access to the property store.
Arnold started stealing money from the safes at Dorset Police headquarters (pictured) in 2018
‘That revealed that Mrs Arnold appeared to be paying large sums of cash into her credit card and bank account in excess of her monthly salary.
‘The payments far exceed the missing money counted.
‘Each member of staff was issued a pack key identifiable to themselves to access the property store. It would require your own pack key and another. There was a spare on the premises.
‘In August of 2021 to January 2022 there had been access made by Mrs Arnold outside of her working hours which coincided with the use of the spare pack key.’
Mr Ellacot explained that police officers then searched Arnold’s home where they found bundles of cash in her wardrobe along with the spare pack key which had gone missing.
He added: ‘She was interviewed and made full admissions to taking cash.
‘She said she was saving because she said that at the time she was thinking of leaving her husband.’
Arnold appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court (pictured) having pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by an employee at a previous hearing. She was jailed yesterday for two years
Christopher Pix, defending, said Arnold had been ‘sucked into’ a shopping addiction to cope with her marital strife.
He said: ‘She gave a full account at interview. She has been taking steps to address the ongoing issues that brought this about.
‘She is currently menopausal. Her marriage was in a crisis and the time and she developed a shopping addiction that sucked her in.
‘Her marriage, which was partly a catalyst to these incidents, is back on track.’
In jailing her, Judge Evans said: ‘On October 2018 to March 2022 you carried out a theft of some £14,000.
‘You were in a trusted position. Seventeen exhibits had cash probably taken from them. A further 41 bags had been tampered with. Some £15,000 cash was recovered from your wardrobe.
‘You were using online shopping as escapism and quickly fell into debt.
‘High standards are expected of those who work in the police force. These offences have a devastating effect on confidence in the police.
‘Appropriate punishment can only be achieved through immediate custody.’
Afterwards, Sam de Reya, the Dorset Police Deputy Chief Constable, said: ‘I hope this investigation demonstrates that we will robustly investigate suspected wrongdoing by members of our organisation and undertake swift action.
‘Our officers and members of staff are expected to execute their duties with integrity.
‘On this occasion a staff member has fallen short of those standards and been found guilty of a criminal offence.
‘We will pursue and deal with those who seek to undermine the trust that is placed in us by the public and let down colleagues and the police service.’