When a South Wales police force staged a fake undercover operation at a house in Neath, two members of the force were caught stealing on camera.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Phillips was found to have stolen £250; Detective Constable Jason Evans took two pens.
Both officers were veteran members of the force: Evans had served as an officer for 19 years, Phillips had been on the force for 26 years.
As District Judge Bodfan Jenkins said, it was not the value of the stolen items that was important; rather, it was the fact that officers exhibited “breathtakingly arrogant” behavior and broke the public’s trust in police officers.
“The amounts were not large. In the case of you Evans, it was infinitesimal but the significance of the act far outweighs the cost,” Jenkins said.
“The public expect and is entitled to expect the highest level of trust in police officers,” Jenkins continued. “Both you fell seriously short of that expectation.”
After the incident, both men pleaded guilty to theft. Evans, 44, spent 12 weeks in jail. Philips, 45, received 22 weeks in jail.
Both men are now facing fast-track dismissal proceedings, and are expected to lose their police pensions.
The Neath-based team was carrying out an “intelligence-led integrity test” on officers as part of an investigation into organized crime. The team pretended it had been asked to investigate a property that was allegedly linked to a series of burglaries.
The property, which was being videotaped, had been filled with “evidence” including Viagra, mobile phones, watches and more than £20,000 in cash.
Phillips was caught on camera putting his hand into a coat pocket, where he discovered £240.
“He removes his hand and leaves the scene – but then returns 20 seconds later when he removes the cash and places it in his pocket,” stated prosecutor Andrew Kendall.
Phillips also took £10 from a bedside table. All notes had been marked with invisible ink.
Last month, video footage revealed that Evans had taken two pens from the house during the raid.