Simon Read, 37, was branded dishonest over the scam at a Tesco self-service till. Ex-soldier Read insisted he had made a genuine mistake while buying a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts for his colleagues. The Cambridgeshire officer claimed he had planned to play a trick on his sergeant who was on a diet and banned from eating cakes.
So he bought carrots and put them in the bag meant for the tray of doughnuts, a misconduct panel heard. Read claimed he tore off the 7p barcode from the carrots and stuck it on the doughnut tray.
Putting the barcode on the bag would’ve ruined the joke, he said.
The officer, who was on duty and in uniform, was caught on CCTV as he switched the barcodes at the Tesco store in Wisbech, Cambs, last February.
He said he genuinely believed he had scanned both barcodes and had not realised the doughnuts had not registered. But Mark Ley-Morgan, representing Cambridgeshire Police, told the panel that Read’s account “beggars belief”.
Read must have noticed he was charged just £4 for doughnuts, carrots, a sandwich and a drink when the true cost was more than £14, said Mr Ley-Morgan.
The disciplinary panel, sitting in Peterborough, concluded Read was guilty of gross misconduct.
He was dismissed from the force without notice.
Panel chair Sharmistha Michaels said: “We feel that if this had been a genuine mistake, there would have been numerous occasions for this to be remedied by the officer.
“On the balance of probability, we say that he intentionally scanned the wrong barcode, and that his conduct was therefore dishonest, and his behaviour discreditable.
“This breach of the standards of professional behaviour was so serious that we have found it to amount to gross misconduct, and dismissal is therefore justified.”
She added: “We find that the seriousness of the offence is incompatible with his role as a police officer.
“The offence involved dishonesty, which undermines the trust that the public place in the police, and need to have in police officers for their service to be effective.
“There is nothing exceptional about this case that leads us to believe that dismissal for gross misconduct is not appropriate.”
Read, of Wisbech, had previously served with the Royal Corps of Signals in the British Army.
He joined Cambridgeshire Police in January.
During earlier service with Thames Valley Police, he had been involved in helping with royal weddings, said Carolina Bracken, defending.