OKEECHOBEE — A former employee was charged with grand theft after reportedly stealing from the ATM, self-service lottery machine and safe of the Town Star on State Road 710, where she used to work.
Deputy Misei Esquivel of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the Town Star on Thursday, July 23 at approximately 4:30 a.m., in regards to a burglary report. When she arrived, she met with a clerk, who told her she had found the doors unlocked, one partially open and the alarm not set when she arrived for work. The clerk went on to say she went inside to check for anything suspicious and found the ATM and the lottery machine had no money in them.
When the manager arrived, she and the deputy viewed the surveillance footage to find out what happened. The footage reportedly showed the night shift clerk working behind the counter at approximately 11:30 p.m. A car pulled up to the store, and the driver got out and knocked on the door. The night shift clerk then opened the door and let the woman, who was later identified as 29-year-old Ashley Thompson, in. When Thompson went into the store, she reportedly went behind the counter, grabbed some keys and tried to open the safe. After getting money out of the safe, she grabbed 35 scratch-off lottery tickets and rang them up at the register.
According to the manager, Thompson worked at the store in the past and was fired for stealing lottery tickets, but no charges were filed at that time.
Deputy Esquivel was able to lift fingerprints from the ATM machine, the scanner for the register and the register screen.
The clerk who was on duty during the theft told Deputy Esquivel that Thompson knocked on the door, and he let her in. She allegedly told him she was there to help him with the safe and would lock up for him. She said she had permission from the manager to be there. He said she had been there earlier in the evening to check the safe, and he did not see her take anything, because he was busy. When she came in, he left, because she said she would lock up for him.
Thompson was arrested July 28 by OCSO. Bond was set at $5,000.