Red-faced police have admitted paying a £44,500 phone bill – after giving a burglar a mobile to use for free.
Officers gave the criminal the phone so they could keep tabs on him while he was on bail.
But the burglar handed it to two friends when he was jailed – and they racked up a huge £44,500 bill in just six months.
The staggering charges on the Orange contract phone were worth more than £250-a-day.
The burglar’s two friends were arrested on suspicion of theft – but no charges were brought against them when it emerged the crook wasn’t asked to sign any forms when he was given the phone.
North Wales Police has now admitted they settled the £44,500 bill.
A spokesman for the force said: “This phone was provided under the Integrated Offender Management process in order to allow frequent support/communication of an offender in their rehabilitation into the community.
“It was used for a number of months and the bills were paid monthly as part of the overall force-wide invoice.
“In the case of this particular phone a contract SIM was mistakenly supplied as opposed to a credit limited PAYG (pay as you go) SIM card.
“When the irregularity came to light in early 2014 the Deputy Chief Constable requested an immediate investigation into how this had occurred, and the matter was passed to Crime Services for further investigation.
“A criminal investigation took place which established three individuals to whom the phone could be attributed.
“Two people were arrested and interviewed in relation to the usage and they provided accounts with regards to their use of the mobile telephone, which included how it came into their possession.
“In this case the evidential threshold was not met and nobody could be criminally charged.”