A THIEF staged his own gold rush at a Bolton jewellers by stealing almost £30,000 from his employers, a court heard.

Christopher Kempster, a trusted member of staff at Prestons of Bolton, ran three schemes to pocket cash belonging to the firm, covering his tracks by falsifying record books over an eight-month period, a jury at Manchester Crown Court was told.

Fiona Wise, prosecuting, said Kempster was caught after his supervisor noticed his sums did not add up and a detailed examination of the books revealed the scale of his crime.

Kempster, aged 23, of Woodgate Street, Great Lever, denies three counts of theft.

Miss Wise told the court how Kempster had worked in the Bolton town centre jewellers' gold room since 2010 and was a trusted employee.

Customers would bring gold they wanted to sell and staff would send it to the room to be weighed, valued and the amount to offer for its purchase would be decided.

It was alleged that between January 1 and July 31, 2012, Kempster deliberately miscalculated the figures entered in the firm’s records, enabling him to steal amounts between £100 and £1,000 on 29 occasions, adding up to more than £8,000.

At the same time, he also stole £2,900 by taking cash from the store’s safe to replenish the gold room’s float — known as the gold tin — but then not putting all the money in the tin.

But his most lucrative thefts, netting £18,330, was between December, 2011, and July, 2012, when customers brought their gold into the shop to sell.

After it was weighed and a price decided, the jewellery and cash Prestons was prepared to pay were put in a bag and sent back to customer on the sales floor.

If the customer wanted to complete the sale they would take the cash and the gold would be sent to the gold room, but if they decided not to accept the offer, the cash was returned to the room.

Miss Wise said Kempster would write in the records that the gold had been sold, and keep the returned cash for himself.

His alleged thefts came to light when his supervisor, Kate Connelly, found discrepancies in the record keeping.

Miss Wise said: “It was quickly revealed that it was not the odd mathematical error.”

Kempster was suspended and later sacked, with police called in to investigate.

The case continues.