Holiday warning: Store clerk charged with stealing from customer

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-A warning to stay alert while holiday shopping.

Stacy Brown was at a Wal-Mart near West Palm Beach. When she got home, Brown realized her wallet was missing. So she returned to the store. There Brown says Wal-Mart personnel eventually showed her the security tape of a cashier grabbing Brown's wallet.

"I turned around and I got my daughter out of the cart," recounted Brown. That's when Brown said the clerk struck.

"She takes my wallet off the counter, puts it into a Wal-Mart bag, rolls it twice and puts it under her register," said Brown.

Deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrived and arrested cashier Melissa Thomas. Deputies say she confessed and led them to the wallet at her home.

Brown said all her belongings were still in the wallet, except her $380. "My husband just lost his job and it's Christmas time," Brown lamented. "I guess desperate people do desperate things, especially during the holidays. But it's disappointing."

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman pointed out the store had no way of confirming how much was in the wallet. She said Wal-Mart expects associates to "maintain the highest degree of integrity" and was glad to help police.

The Sheriff's Office encourages shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, dress casually and comfortably, avoid wearing expensive jewelry.. and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Another piece of advice: Don't overload yourself with packages, and become a potential target. Shopping in groups can also reduce risk.