A police officer has admitted abusing his position as a financial investigator to steal £80,000 ($105,000) in cash from high-net-worth passengers flying from Heathrow Airport.
Michael Harrington, a detective sergeant with the Metropolitan Police, seized large sums of money using his power as a police officer to investigate people entering and leaving the UK.
But instead of putting the money under police control, the 46-year-old officer took it for himself.
Harrington pleaded guilty to 16 counts of theft on October 17 at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court.
The Metropolitan Police said that DS Harrington carried out the thefts over five years, from October 2010 to July 2015.
He was arrested after one of his victims complained to police that their money had never been returned.
The Met Police’s internal investigators then looked into Harrington’s history and found 15 more victims.
As a member of the Met Police’s Specialist and Economic Crime Command, he would routinely investigate large sums of cash crossing the border, and have the opportunity to seize it.
It was supposed to be put into special protected accounts, and returned if police found no evidence linking the money to crime.
Officers who searched Harrington’s home found a number of empty cash bags. They were not able to recover any of the stolen money.
Harrington is due to be sentenced on November 28. The maximum punishment for theft is seven years imprisonment.
A Met Police statement said Harrington will undergo internal disciplinary procedures once the court case is over.