A Solihull postman stole greetings cards from a sorting office to fund his drug addiction, Warwick Crown Court heard.
Paul Kirby (46), of Baxters Road, Shirley, set out to steal £10 or £20 a day from the cards while working at the Shirley sorting office.
Kirby pleaded guilty to three charges of theft and two of delaying or opening postal packages, but escaped being jailed.
He was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months, with 12 months supervision, and was ordered to pay £500 costs and £209 compensation and to take part in a drug rehabilitation programme.
John Dove, prosecuting, said Kirby had worked as a postman based at the Shirley sorting office for more than 11 years before he was suspended last September.
Suspicion had fallen on him in April when a colleague saw him sorting greetings cards.
Mr Dove pointed out that greeting cards tended to be distinctive because they were larger than average letters and were often in coloured envelopes – and were likely to contain cash, despite advice not to put money in them.
Investigators discovered 62 greeting cards, 30 of which had been opened at his home address, and in his car were a further 22 opened cards.
The investigators also recovered 3,100 undelivered ‘door-to-door’ items, for which postmen are paid an extra sum on top of their salary to deliver.
Of the unopened ones, he said he intended to re-post them, explaining he was only looking to steal £10 or £20 a day to fund his heroin habit, and would stop when he had enough.
Tom Walkling, defending, conceded: “It was relatively low-level in terms of value, but there was a high degree of trust. He was only stealing as much as he needed to buy drugs. As a result he has lost his job and his friends at work. He has lost everything except his family.”