Police: Valpo Best Buy employee hands out phony gift cards, pockets real ones

2010-12-28T00:00:00Z Police: Valpo Best Buy employee hands out phony gift cards, pockets real onesBy Jeff Burton jeff.burton@nwi.com, (219) 548-4354 nwitimes.com
December 28, 2010 12:00 am  • 

VALPARAISO | At least three people who received Best Buy gift cards for Christmas soon will find them worthless.

A cashier at the Silhavy Road electronics store faces possible felony theft charges after she was caught Thursday afternoon pocketing shoppers' gift cards and handing out ones with no cash value.

According to Valparaiso police, the 19-year-old cashier took advantage of a holiday promotion giving PlayStation 3 video game console purchasers free $50 gift cards.

Beginning Dec. 17, each time a customer purchased a video game console, the cashier allegedly would activate the card and place it in her pocket. She'd then hand the customer a blank gift card that hadn't been charged with any cash value.

A regional asset protection manager told police they were able to discover her plan with the help of an automated computer system that attaches the cashier's identity with gift cards. Should any cashier use a gift card he or she sold, an alert is sent to the regional asset protection department and those purchases are tracked.

With the three $50 gift cards she allegedly pocketed, police say the cashier purchased DVDs, CDs and snacks at the store on four separate occasions.

When questioned by store officials and police, the cashier reportedly admitted to the gift card con, saying it was "an impulsive decision."

The cashier was issued a trespass warning and told never to return to the store.

The Porter County prosecutor's office is reviewing formal charges against the cashier, who was not arrested at the scene.

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