Jewellery store boss 'faked returns'

THE manageress of an Ipswich jewellers' invented fictitious customers and forged the signatures of other members of staff to steal more than £3,000 from her employers, it has been alleged.

THE manageress of an Ipswich jewellers' invented fictitious customers and forged the signatures of other members of staff to steal more than £3,000 from her employers, it has been alleged.

Alison Lock, 33, allegedly stole sums of money ranging from £56 to £469 on 30 occasions during a three month period after she became manageress of the Warren James store in August 2004, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, claimed that Lock falsified customer returns and then took money for refunds from the shop till and kept it for herself.

The alleged offences came to light after an assistant manager at the store became concerned and contacted her area manager after noticing her signature had been forged on a faulty stock return form.

The assistant manager had looked for the item of jewellery that had supposedly been returned by a customer but could not find it.

It was also discovered that the address of the customer who had returned the item of jewellery did not exist, said Mr Shaw.

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He alleged that when other transactions were examined it was discovered that staff signatures had been forged on customer return forms and fictitious customer details had been entered on them.

He also claimed that on one occasion Lock had taken an item of jewellery from another branch of Warren James to cover her tracks.

Lock, of Kildare Avenue, Ipswich, has denied 30 offences of theft involving more than £3,400.

After her arrest, Lock acknowledged that her signature was on the majority of the allegedly false customer return forms but could not give an explanation.

Mr Shaw said that in September, October and November 2004, the Ipswich branch of Warren James was the highest place of the firm's 120 branches in respect of the number of returned items.

However, in December 2004, after Lock had been suspended, the Ipswich store's position had gone down to 55th.

The trial continues.

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