A man has avoided jail after stealing £4,001 worth of goods in a self-scan racket at ASDA supermarkets.
Kenneth Hollis carried out the first theft accidentally after selecting carrier bags on the checkout and pressing the pay option, without having scanned his shopping first, Birmingham Magistrates' Court heard.
But when the 43-year-old realised he had "got away with it" he exited the shop and went on a four-month fraud spree targeting five different stores, as bailiffs chased him for debts.
An ASDA analyst clocked on to his scheme which ultimately led to his arrest.
Hollis has now been ordered to repay every penny.
At a previous hearing Hollis, of Vicarage Prospect, Dudley, admitted five charges of fraud by false representation and an offence of driving without insurance.
On Tuesday 12 April, he was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years.
He was also told to complete a "thinking skills" programme and 30 days of rehabilitation activity, as well as pay ASDA £4,001 in compensation.
Between October last year and January this year, Hollis stole £322 worth of goods from a Dudley store, £1,186 of items from a Birmingham branch, £893 of products from the supermarket in Tipton, £795 worth from Oldbury and £805 of goods from the Halesowen branch.
The insurance offence was committed on 8 January on Halesowen Queensway.
Prosecutor Neelam Shafiq said: "The fraud took place over four months. It was highlighted by an analyst at ASDA's intelligence centre who found discrepancies at a number of ASDA stories.
"Mr Hollis was alleged to have committed these.
"He's entered the stores as a customer, selected items from around the stores, putting those into the trolley then he goes to the self-scan checkout.
"He selected the bags from the checkout scanning those bags then clicking 'finish and pay', bypassing the weighing scales.
"He has proceeded to bag up the items without scanning them, then left the stores."
Sam Christopher, defending, said: "Why did he do it? He bought shopping from ASDA. Initially he scanned the bags first and pressed pay to complete the transaction.
"He should have told the shop but didn't and realised he could get away with fraud. He was struggling.
"He was paying off debts. He got in arrears with his rent and bailiffs were involved. He has resolved that. He went around local ASDA's having got away with it.
"To his credit since it has come to light he has done everything right.
"He held his hands up in interview. He has pleaded guilty."
Mr Christopher added that Hollis was "scammed" on Facebook and thought he had paid to insure his car but in fact he had not.
Passing sentence District Judge David Murray said: "It's a serious fraud over a number of months. You used a motor vehicle on at least one occasion which was uninsured.
The court was told the crime was "sophisticated and sustained."