A DEPARTMENT store worker stole £56,000 of train sets and toys to deal with his financial problems.
Graham Nichols took mainly Hornby train sets while working as the manager at Boswells, Oxford.
But Nichols, of Barton Village Road, Headington, was spared prison after admitting at Oxford Crown Court one count of theft by an employee.
Nichols, 51, was given a 20-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at the hearing last week.
He had worked at the store for 13 years but started stealing in the summer of 2011, the court heard.
The firm realised something was wrong when they found 70 empty boxes in the stock room in March.
Nichols, who was on a salary of £12,000, admitted everything at a staff meeting and to the police.
Jonathan Stone, prosecuting, said the theft started when Nichols began taking trains home to fix, but eventually he would bring them to a car boot sale in Tetsworth.
Mr Stone said: “He would take six or seven trains along at a time and if the customers asked for a particular one he would take it from the shop to them.”
He said Nichols passed on most of the trains to two men for discount prices and alcohol.
Jane Malcolm, defending, said the theft was not sophisticated and her client only made a profit of about £1,500.
She said: “He had some financial problems so he started taking stock and selling them at car boot sales.
“He knew it was wrong and wanted to stop.”
Nichols, who was sacked and now works as a cleaner and a delivery driver, was ordered to pay £5,000 compensation and carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work.
He was also handed a six-month supervision order.