AN IPSWICH mum spent three months glueing fake barcodes for 65c packets of fried noodles to thousands of dollars worth of stolen grocery items.
Kylie Milner, 35, defrauded Coles and Woolworths stores at Springfield, Booval, Collingwood Park, Brookwater and Goodna of more than $4500 in a sophisticated and devious operation last year.
Milner photocopied barcodes from packs of 65c and 72c fried noodles, printed them and glued them to adhesive labels which she then used to cover barcodes on more expensive items when she went to grocery stores.
She used self-serve checkouts on a daily or sometimes twice-daily basis to steal packs of meat, coffee machines, protein powder, toilet paper, disinfectant and sheet sets.
Milner was caught after store managers noticed a "regular female customer" who appeared nervous when she used the self-serve checkouts.
Police identified 31 occasions when Milner used the fake barcodes and a further three occasions when she attempted to defraud the companies.
During a search of her home, police found glue sticks and copies of the fraudulent barcodes on her computer along with grocery items with the fake barcodes attached.
In sentencing in Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday, the court heard Milner was "struggling financially" and bankrupt.
Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said Milner was motivated "largely by need rather than greed".
"The restitution is very conservative and I estimate it is very likely you stole a considerable amount more," Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said.
Ms Sturgess said it was appropriate to record a conviction against Milner as "future employers were entitled to know and have notice of fraud" convictions.
Milner pleaded guilty to 31 counts of fraud, three counts of attempted fraud and one count of possessing a drug related utensil.
She was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment suspended for three years.
Ms Sturgess ordered Milner pay $1545 restitution to Coles and $2070 to Woolworths and fined her $150.