Business thief lured by easy access to cash deposits

The bank deposits of five downtown businesses have recently been stolen from unsecured offices by an unknown thief.

Hood River City Detective Stan Baker said over the past several weeks a total of $11,200 has been taken from local stores. In all cases, he said the cash and signed checks were left in unlocked rooms that were accessible by the public. In addition, he said the capital was kept in unlocked safes, drawers and filing cabinets.

“We are fortunate to live in a community where this type of crime is the exception and not the rule. However, when we are lax about security measures, we invite ourselves to become victims,” said Baker.

He and Community Resource Officer Aaron Jubitz have launched an investigation into the thefts. They are unsure if the crimes were committed by the same people but, based on preliminary findings, they do not believe that any employee was involved.

However, they said, even if a worker was to blame, it would be difficult to gain a conviction when it could be clearly shown that patrons also had access to the funds.

“If you take a few precautions then you don’t have to be looking over your shoulder wondering if your employee took the money. It pretty much eliminates that suspicion,” said Baker.

He and Jubitz are offering to help business owners throughout the city beef up security on their properties. Upon request, they will visit the premises and tailor a program that is suited to the setting.

“We would encourage you to spend a little time evaluating how you conduct the handling of your hard-earned sales money,” Jubitz said. “It takes a little bit of effort to secure your building but, in the end, it does pay off.”

Jubitz and Baker offer the following easy, cost-effective measures to help prevent a business from being victimized:

* Always keep deposits locked inside a safe prior to making a trip to the bank — and keep that safe in a locked area.

* Scale back sharply the number of employees that have access to the safe.

* Keep small monetary amounts for the cash register in a separate location from the sales receipts. This allows employees and the public to have access to only limited amounts of capital.

* Install small bells or buzzers on the back doors of the shop to sound the alert whenever someone enters or exits.

* Make daily deposits and don’t keep large quantities of cash on hand.

“You work too hard for your money to let it walk out the door,” said Baker.

For more information about the security program, or to schedule a visitation, call Police Chief Tony Dirks at 386-2942, Baker at 387-5251, or Jubitz at 387-5258.

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