ELLOREE, SC (WIS) - An investigation by the Elloree Police Department uncovered an employee theft ring at the Dollar General store on Old Number 6 Highway.
Police say the store's management reported a loss of merchandise costing more than $56,000 over eight months.
Seven employees have been arrested on charges of felony criminal conspiracy and breach of trust involving more than $10,000. They were booked into the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center where they have posted bail.
According to the arrest warrants, the employees, "while utilizing a scheme, did knowingly, with intent to permanently deprive the owner, remove, carry away or allowed to be carried away, retail merchandise without payment."
"They would wait until the close of business at the end of the day and they would already pre-load buggies or shopping carts and right when it time to close the business, they would pull those buggies up, pretend to scan the items, and the buggies would be completely full," Elloree Police Chief Joseph Avinger said. "Then we went back with the video and checked it along with the register tape to see how much money was spent at the register and it would be only a few dollars -- $10 to $15 from buggies filled with merchandise."
Avinger says the investigation was a cooperative effort between the store management, police department, and 1st Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Those arrested are:
- Laquilla Washington, 29, of Santee, SC
- Tracy D. Zeigler, 33, of Elloree, SC
- Jamie P. Stokes, 18, of Elloree, SC
- Shanel Chisolm, 19, Elloree, SC
- Shantell McFadden, 25, of Elloree, SC
- Julisa Reed, 24, of Elloree, SC
- Vernelle Charles, 49, of Vance, SC
Avinger said his department was notified by Dollar General's Loss Prevention after an employee admitted to stealing merchandise from the store. Investigators went through more than 30 surveillance videos.
"It took us a good month to go through that because we had to do a link analysis and link together who they were and when they were doing them if they were doing them together or by themselves," Avinger said.
The women were booked into the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center where they have posted bail. They each face one charge of criminal conspiracy and breach of trust involving more than $10,000.
A spokesperson for Dollar General on Wednesday said the company is disappointed in the now-ex employees' alleged actions and grateful for the coordination of the Elloree Police Department in its investigation.
The suspects will have their first appearance in court April 25.