SINGAPORE - Desperate for fast cash to repay his gambling debts, McDonald's restaurant manager Tham Cheun Leong told his assistants not to seal bags containing the restaurant's daily takings, lying that he wanted to count it.
He then pocketed the money, accumulating almost $35,000 over two months.
To cover his tracks, he replaced the missing cash with takings from subsequent days.
But he was quickly found out after money bags that had not been banked were traced to him, and left the fast food chain soon after.
Yesterday, the 33-year-old was jailed for three months after pleading guilty to criminal breach of trust.
He committed the offence in September and October 2012, when he was working at the McDonald's branch along Yuan Ching Road in Jurong.
In passing sentence, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said the sum involved that been substantial, and that Tham had taken the money over a period of time.
But the judge also considered how Tham had returned the full amount to McDonald's in February last year - fairly soon after the chain began investigating the discrepancies in late October 2012.
The court heard that seven money bags that should have contained $34,901.15 were left empty because Tham had used their contents to replace sums he had taken earlier.
He took the empty bags home instead of handing cash-filled ones to security company Certis Cisco.
Calling for a jail term of four to five months, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chew Xin Ying said Tham had concocted the excuse of counting the money to avoid arousing suspicion, then taken meticulous steps to cover up the resulting shortfalls.
Tham's lawyer Josephus Tan asked for no more than two months in prison for his client, pointing out he was remorseful and had made full restitution even before he was charged.
Tham has also sought help from Credit Counselling Singapore - a charity which helps people with debt problems - for the gambling problem which led to his offence, Mr Tan said.
The court ordered that Tham should start serving his sentence on Sept 11, after he asked for time to make arrangements to settle his debts.
He could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.