A Samsung employee in South Korea has been arrested after it was discovered that he had allegedly stolen 8,474 smartphones over a period of almost two years to pay off his gambling debts.

The man, known simply by his surname as Lee, joined Samsung in 2010 when the South Korean tech giant launched a programme offering jobs for people with disabilities.

He worked on maintaining old handsets, which are used by developers to study how any upgrades and new features to the Samsung user interface might impact older models.

It is alleged that between December 2014 and November 2016, Lee stole thousands of smartphones by hiding them in his wheelchair, according to the Korean Herald's tech site The Investor.

All Samsung employees are required to pass through a body scanner before they can leave the company headquarters in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, but Lee was permitted to skip the scanners due to his electronic wheelchair.

After smuggling the phones out of Samsung, Lee allegedly sold them to a second-hand phone retailer, and he made a profit of 800 million won ($712,000, £550,000), which he used to pay off gambling debts amounting to 900 million won.

Samsung reported the crime to the police in December 2016 after discovering that some handsets with batteries that specifically stated they were "not for sale" were being distributed in Vietnam.

On 7 June, South Korean police announced that they had arrested Lee for stealing and reselling the Samsung smartphones.