A MAN who stole from his employer to fund his gambling addiction was shocked to discover the extent of his crime after an audit revealed he had taken more than $12,800 over an eight-month period.David Popovski, 25, pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates Court to theft from his employer, Ballarat Stationers, from July last year to March this year.Police prosecutor Sergeant Bob Anderson told the court Popovski, from Wendouree, gradually stole the money taking from $5 to $100 each time.He said in March this year management from Ballarat Stationers confronted Popovski and he was suspended from work.Sgt Anderson said when Popovski discovered the total amount of money he had taken he was shocked and very remorseful.Defence lawyer Jon Irwin said since being charged with theft his client had done a lot to get back on track."This is what happens when you get involved in gambling - he got hooked,'' Mr Irwin said."As is the case with gambling addicts they are always after that one big win.''Mr Irwin said it had been a relief for Popovski when he got caught and he realised how bad the addiction it had become.Magistrate Kay Robertson said in the normal run of events stealing from an employer would attract a prison sentence."On one hand we must send a message to the community you can't steal from employers,'' Ms Robertson said.She said Popovski had taken positive steps by seeking help for his addiction and attempted to pay the money back to his employer.She imposed a conviction and sentenced him to a community based order for 12 months with 100 hours of community work.She also ordered Popovski pay compensation to his ex-employer for the money stolen.