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Former Kmart director concluded theft was 'inside job'

Posted: Thursday, November 06, 2003

Last year's $100,000 theft from Juneau's Kmart store was an "inside job" that could have been completed in 10 or 15 minutes, a former director of the store testified Wednesday.

As Frank Brian Rowcroft, the former security director for the store, stands trial on a first-degree theft charge, another co-worker from the now-closed store testified that she saw him at the store three times in the early hours of March 31, 2002, the morning the money disappeared.

Sue Dougherty, who was supervising the front end of the 24-hour store during that graveyard shift, said she saw Rowcroft at about 1:30 a.m. and coming into the store with his girlfriend sometime after 3 a.m. The other time she saw him was after the power went out.

Glen Broaddus was the store director and called in that Easter Sunday. More than $68,000 in cash and more than $31,000 in checks and credit card receipts were discovered missing from the cash room after what police described as a staged blackout.

Broaddus, who took the witness stand Tuesday, spent most of Wednesday answering attorneys' questions about store procedures and security tapes, which were shown to the jury.

Cameras were in position to show who was in the cash cage, where the safe was located, and other places in the store where the thief would have been early that morning, but the tapes didn't show anything, Broaddus said. Cameras were shut off and tapes recorded over, he said.

"There wasn't a blackout," he said, explaining that power was shut down in only selected areas.

The loss of power to the freezers at the back of the store required all available employee to take action to save merchandise, he said.

Dougherty testified that there were 10 to 12 employees working, and six to eight were working on keeping the food cold. When the power seemed to come back on, the freezers still weren't cooling.

She said she ended up going upstairs with another employee and they found two circuit switches turned off. She flipped the switches and restored power.

Broaddus added that it was his opinion that after taking down the freezers the thief also took care of the cameras and cash registers before going upstairs to shut off half of the interior lights in the store, coming back down to enter the cash cage, take the money and leave the store.

On a large floor plan of the store, he diagrammed where that would be done - on the other side of the store from the freezers.

While being cross-examined by Menendez, Broaddus said there would have been someone at the front of the store, even in a freezer crisis.

Menendez noted that Register 8 would have been directly in front of the room leading to the cash cage.

Broaddus suggested that an employee there could have been distracted.

During Dougherty's testimony, she said that when she left to help with the freezers, another employee remained at Register 8.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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