William Beattie conned a sales assistant into refunding him for an item he had not actually bought in the store.
He then used the gift card he was given in return to obtain other goods from Wilko in Falkirk High Street without it costing him a penny.
At Falkirk Sheriff Court last Thursday the 34-year-old had his sentence for fraud adjourned until June 16 for him to be assessed for a restriction of liberty order.
Sheriff Derek Livingston warned having Beattie tagged would be a direct alternative to sending the repeat offender to jail.
At an earlier court Beattie, 121 Wall Street, Camelon, had admitted picking a printer off a shelf in the store on July 21, taking it to the refund counter and pretending to a member of staff he had bought it there.
He told the assistant he did not have a receipt and was given a credit note for £45, which he ‘cashed in’ six days later.
After his plea, sentence had been deferred for background reports to be prepared by social workers, but last Thursday Sheriff Livingston made it clear he was not impressed by what Beattie had told them.
He said: “The report suggests he only pled guilty because he was told if he didn’t he would be remanded in custody. It suggests he was coerced into pleading guilty.
“Can I believe anything he said or is he a pathalogical liar?”
Defence lawyer Lynn Swan claimed Beattie had “panicked” at the interview and said the “wrong” thing.
She added: “He now accepts the guilty plea was the right one.”
Mrs Swan said: “This was an opportunist offence. At the time his mental health was not good and he was addicted to painkillers prescribed by his GP. After telling his doctor, the prescriptions stopped, but the addiction did not.”
The court was told that a month before the fraud Beattie had been placed on a 12-month community payback order for another offence.
It also heard Beattie had 14 previous convictions for dishonesty.
Mrs Swan urged he avoid prison and be placed on a supervised order instead. She said although Beattie was living alone at the moment he hoped to return to the family home.