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Steele charged in bank thefts
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DARLINGTON—A Darlington man was charged in a series of thefts at a local financial institution.
Randy C. Steele, 44 of Darlington, made an initial appearance at the Lafayette County Courthouse on Monday, Sept. 24, for allegedly stealing cash and coin from employees and customers of First National Bank of Darlington over several months.
According to the police report, between Oct. 1, 2011, and March 14, 2012, a series of thefts occurred at First National Bank in Darlington. Bank president John Knellwolf reported the thefts to the Darlington Police Department. Knellwolf believed someone was fishing for deposits in the overnight depository. There were some damaged envelopes in the depository and several customers reported their deposits were not showing up on their accounts. Cash from three customers was discovered missing, totaling $903.
Police chief Jason King stated in the report that a new night deposit box was ordered and until it was installed the Darlington Police Department set up video surveillance of the depository area outside the bank. The video was reviewed and the police department staffed an undercover vehicle and conducted random surveillance of the bank during nighttime hours.
“Even as all of these efforts were taken, more money disappeared,” King stated in the report.
Further details emerged revealing the theft was occurring internally. It was reported that $125 in quarters was taken from the coin counting machine, where one employee admitted to inadvertently failing to putting the quarters in the safe at the end of the work day. Additionally, an envelope on an employee bulletin board containing charitable contributions was emptied of its contents, estimated at $40. Also, an employee reported $300 stolen from a wallet in her desk, which is not accessible to the public and not under video surveillance.
When police reviewed surveillance video from within the bank, the person of interest identified for the theft was Steele, a contractor who provided cleaning services to the bank. King reported that during an interview with Steele about the thefts, Steele admitted he was responsible for the theft of quarters and cash from the bank employees and the depository.
“When asked why, Steele told me he has been struggling with depression over money matters,” King stated.
Steele admitted to King that he started stealing from the night depository in October 2011 and stole weekly. He said he stole only cash, never checks. He would burn the checks, envelopes and deposit slips that he fished out of the depository by inserting a knife into the bottom seam of the depository. Steele estimated he probably stole approximately $2,000 over that time. At the end of the interview, Steele handed over $83.50 in quarters that he hadn’t spent.
“It is difficult to know the exact amount of money stolen,” King stated. “It is possible some of the deposit thefts went undetected since some customers may not pay close attention to their banking records and therefore did not alert the bank.”
The stolen money was reimbursed to the employees and customers by the bank. The bank reported the following losses, totaling $8,695.50:
-$903 for reimbursement to three banking customers who reported missing deposits
-$300 to a bank employee who reported money missing from her desk
-$41.50 for the net loss in quarters taken from the bank
-$75 for stop payment on stolen checks
-$1,300 for payment to security personnel to review video surveillance
-$6,000 for installation of new night deposit head and video cameras
Steele is facing four charges, including two counts of misdemeanor theft, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and/or nine months imprisonment; theft from a financial institution (value exceeds $500 but does not exceed $10,000), a Class H felony, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and/or six years imprisonment; and theft from a financial institution (value does not exceed $500), a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and/or nine months imprisonment.
In court on Monday, bail was set at a $2,000 signature bond. A request for substitution of judge was granted.