Australian mint worker jailed for filling his boots

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The Independent Online

An occasional lapse in security is to be expected from time to time in any business. But when that business is a national mint, one would expect security to be tight enough to stop workers walking out the door with boots full of cash. Yet in Australia that is exactly what has happened.

A court in Canberra yesterday sentenced an employee of the country's national mint to three years in prison for smuggling thousands of two-dollar coins home by storing them in his boots and lunch box.

William Bosia Grzeskowiak, a 48-year-old worker at the Royal Australian Mint, pleaded guilty to stealing more than A$135,000 (£79,700) over a 10-month period last year after police found buckets filled with coins hidden in his mother's garage.

Remarkably, Grzeskowiak managed to avoid the mint's metal detectors because his boots were steel-tipped. Judge Terry Conolly, who sentenced Grzeskowiak, said he was astonished at the mint's lack of security. "I find it hard to believe that 150 coins could be concealed in each boot and a person could still walk through the security system," he said yesterday.

The Australian $2 coin, which features a portrait of an Aboriginal tribal leader on its face, is the highest denomination coin currently in circulation. Prosecutors said Grzeskowiak smuggled out an average of $600 a day by pocketing the coins direct from the production line and transferring them to his boots in the company lavatories. He began his stealing spree in April last year after falling out with his boss, according to court testimony.

When police searched Grzeskowiak's mother's garage they discovered that the vast majority of the cash, weighing in at more than 500kg, had yet to be spent. Grzeskowiak was able to carry away over a kilogram of coins each day before he was finally caught but he only managed to spend just over £2,000.

Judge Connolly ordered Grzeskowiak to serve at least 18 months of his three-year sentence and pay back the missing money.