A thief who stole an iPad which had been left on board an aircraft at Gatwick airport has been sentenced.
Dionel Berte took the tablet, which had been reported as lost by the owner, with a tracker on the device showing that it was airside at the airport’s South Terminal.
But the 30-year-old, who worked for a third-party baggage handling company, took it back to his home address where he presented it as gift.
Sussex Police said that the device was tracked to his home address before the tracker was turned off.
Later, the iPad was taken back to the airport and left in a women’s toilet at Berte’s request in an attempt to evade the consequences of his theft.
Berte’s account of what happened kept changing but eventually he admitted taking it.
At Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 1 November, Berte, of Apsley Court, Crawley, admitted one count of theft.
The court was told how Mika Makela, the iPad owner, reported that it was lost on Sunday 17 September.
The tracker showed that the device was still airside at the South Terminal but a few days later Berte removed it and presented it as a gift, claiming that he had bought it online.
He linked the device to his own account after restoring its factory setting.
Berte was first arrested on Friday 29 September and was subsequently interviewed again on Thursday 5 October.
After realising that police were investigating the theft, he concocted the return of the iPad to the airport in an attempt to make it seem as though it had been left in toilets.
He was arrested and interviewed again on Wednesday 18 October when he admitted taking the item and trying to return it in the hope that he would not be prosecuted.
In court, Berte was given a community order. He was sentenced to 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £68 compensation for an iPad case which remained missing, £85 costs and a £114 victim surcharge.
The victim praised PC Michelle Robinson, the officer in charge of the investigation, for her excellent investigative work and professionalism.
PC Robinson said: “Berte thought that nobody would notice the theft but the device was tracked to an address linked to him in Crawley.
“He then concocted stories about where he had obtained the device as well as organising a bizarre attempt to cover his tracks by returning the iPad to the airport.
“This case demonstrates that we will pursue thieves and we will work in partnership with London Gatwick’s security team to ensure offenders are brought to justice.”