Juneau man arrested for Kmart heist

Former employee accused of stealing $100,000 from store

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2002

A security supervisor for the Juneau Super Kmart is in jail, awaiting grand jury proceedings after allegedly staging a black-out at the store to steal nearly $100,000 in late March.

Frank Brian Rowcroft, 28, of Juneau was arrested May 3 near the Alaska-Canada border close to Point Frasier after Canadian Customs officials became suspicious of Rowcroft and girlfriend Alia McAllister, 25, and sent them back to the U.S. Customs check point where his vehicle was searched. The search turned up more than $33,000 in cash, Skagway Police Chief Dennis Spurrier told the Empire today. Skagway officers were called in to make the arrests.

Rowcroft was charged with first-degree theft, a felony. McAllister was taken in custody and later released. No charges are pending against her, the district attorney's office said.

Rowcroft is being held on a $50,000 cash bond at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. His case has not come before a Juneau grand jury. Rowcroft does not have an attorney and is waiting for the court to appoint a public defender.

The prosecution's case was laid out in an affidavit from Assistant District Attorney Sue McLean and includes the following:

On March 31, police received the report that about $99,000 in cash, checks and credit card slips had been stolen from the store's cash room during a power outage between 4:55 a.m. and 5:55 a.m.

McLean said an investigation showed the power outage occurred because the breakers were turned off.

McLean alleges in the affidavit that Rowcroft, who was a risk management supervisor, was familiar with security procedures and was responsible for surveillance equipment.

She said most of the store's surveillance cameras were turned off during the outage, except for those in the cash room. Footage from the cash room cameras during the outage were taped over with later events, according to court records. McLean said Rowcroft and another employee were seen after the outage, "handling the surveillance equipment." The other employee was not named.

Kmart manager Eric Harell told police he was the only person who had a key to the cash room during that shift, but had forgotten it that night and asked Rowcroft to pick it up for him around 6 a.m. Harell told police Rowcroft picked up the key from Harell's girlfriend, never gave it to him and then denied picking it up.

Kmart fired Rowcroft a week after the incident and he has not been employed since, according to records. Between his termination and his arrest, McLean said Rowcroft flew to Ketchikan and purchased several items of furniture, paying cash for everything. McAllister later told McLean that Rowcroft bought a safe for under their bed where he stashed $40,000. She also told McLean he was spending an average of $300 per day.

On May 3, after telling friends they were going to Seattle, Rowcroft and McAllister took a ferry to Skagway and drove to the Canadian border.

Canadian customs officials refused to let them enter, Spurrier said. According to the affidavit, customs officials were tipped off by a "defective" vehicle registration.

Upon re-entry into the United States, Rowcroft told the customs officer he was carrying several thousand dollars in cash. He also told customs officials he was going to Anchorage. Seeing no luggage, an officer began to search the vehicle. When the officer looked in the trunk, he noticed the carpet had been cut. Under the carpet was $23,000 bundled in plastic bags. McLean said more than $30,000 allegedly was recovered from the vehicle.

Rowcroft has no prior criminal convictions, according to Alaska court records.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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