Three men who defrauded B&Q out of almost £50,000 over five years now face a custodial sentence.
For five years Anthony Grainger, Gavin Phillips and Paul Hughes targeted B&Q stores in England, Scotland and Wales to claim refunds on products which had been stolen from other stores.
They would exploit a loophole in the system where they would be handed credit slips for the stolen items which were then put towards buying more expensive items. The men could then get a full cash refund for the higher-priced item.
Preston Crown Court heard how stock valued at £43,499 was stolen from B&Q stores between 2005 and 2010. Hughes, 43, Grainger and Phillips, both 34, entered guilty pleas to a conspiracy to steal charge on the first day of their trial.
Judge Pamela Badley adjourned sentence until 21 September to allow for probation reports to be written. But she told the defendants to expect jail, saying: "It is a serious matter and it is going to be a custodial sentence."