A till operator who stole £4,500 from two Lincolnshire Co-operative stores has been ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Deborah Khatooni, 48, admitted taking the cash while working at the shops on Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln, and in Skellingthorpe village.
Lincoln Crown Court heard that over eight months she used a method known as the "lay away system" which left the till appearing to balance.
Khatooni, who had no previous convictions, told police of a "dreadful year" including marriage difficulties, her eldest son owing money and her youngest son being beaten up.
She admitted to taking between £40 and £60 during around 80 shifts.
Richard Marshall, mitigating, said she had now split from her husband and was struggling to pay her mortgage.
Khatooni, of Coronation Crescent, Coleby, admitting a charge of fraud, was ordered to do 100 hours' unpaid work with 12 months' probation.
Recorder Adrienne Lucking told her: "I take into account you had an absolutely awful year and were sensible in making admissions to the staff."