Investigation into alleged employee theft leads to arrest

An investigation into an alleged employee theft from a business in the Jefferson Square Shopping Center resulted in the arrest of an employee who allegedly was falsifying customer returns and pocketing the money.

Shaunette Hawkins, 25, allegedly said she took money from Citi Trends at 2801 S. Olive St. and also allegedly said she gave away stolen merchandise to other employees, Deputy Prosecutor Nicole Pugh said during a court hearing Wednesday for Hawkins.

According to a probable cause affidavit from Detective William Freeman, police were called to the business Monday afternoon by the store manager, who said a customer had come into the store to return merchandise but the store’s computer system showed that the merchandise had already been returned.

Pugh said the manager saw Hawkins’ associate number on the sales receipt as the employee who checked out the customer, then reviewed store security video showing that Hawkins allegedly falsified a return on the merchandise and pocketed the money.

Security video also showed Hawkins falsifying merchandise returns when the store was closed and no customers were present, Freeman said in the affidavit, which also indicated that sometimes Hawkins would ring up sales and pocket the cash immediately and other times would put cash beside the register and pocket it later.

Pugh said the store manager told police she had not finishing reviewing all the store security video tapes but determined from store receipts that about $4,000 had been taken between Dec. 13 and Jan. 14. The manager said Hawkins was hired Nov. 13.

Pine Bluff District Judge John Kearney set a $10,000 bond for Hawkins, who Pugh said had no prior convictions or pending charges, after ruling prosecutors had probable cause to charge her with second-degree forgery and theft of property.

Hawkins said she would hire her own attorney.