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Employee theft rampant

Mugshot Source: Americus Police Department Mugshot Source: Americus Police Department

November 6, 2003

Americus-- Five Americus Wal-Mart employees are busted for stealing.

"A lot of employees know it's documented on paper or video but it just continues."

No matter how strong the security, employee theft goes on, costing millions.

The arrest of those five Wal-Mart employees are not the only instance of employee theft in Americus-- far from it. This week, a Badcock Furniture employee was arrested for stealing thousands of dollars in an elaborate scheme.

Investigators say they are overloaded with employee theft cases.

Outside the Wal-Mart store in Americus there are posted signs warning you are being watched.  Security cameras are stationed near the entrance. It doesn't seem to deter employee theft, though.

Police Sgt. Brett Murray says, "It's a huge problem for employers. If I would hazard to guess it's probably five to ten times the problem shoplifting causes because by the time they realize an inventory shortage they could be tens of thousands of dollars in arrears."

These five women, all Wal-Mart employees, were arrested this week for stealing from their company. Det. Tatotshia Hart says, "Yes Wal-Mart conducted their own investigation and turned the evidence over to me which led to the arrest."

Their scam was pretty simple. They would find a discarded receipt in the parking lot, bring it inside to the service desk where one of their friends would do a refund and they would pocket the cash. Det. Hart says, "About an estimate of $5,000 in one month."

Not far from Wal-Mart, another Americus store lost thousands due to employee theft. Detective Perry Abair says, "They did an estimate of lost products and furniture and they have an estimate of over $20,000."

This man, 40-year-old Jay West, was arrested for stealing from his employer, Badcock Furniture. West is accused of falsifying customers and sales slips--then he would repo the furniture. It went on for months.

Sgt. Brett Murray says, "Businesses like that come and go and employees come and go. Problem is if an employee is stealing and they leave one employer without getting caught they are going to show up at another employer and the problem continues."

The problem of employee theft is never-ending-- no matter how strong the security. Americus investigators say they get more than ten new employee theft cases every month-- and those don't include the cases handled by patrol. Police say it is important to check references and do back ground checks on prospective employees.

Posted at 4:10 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com