EVERETT — On an August morning, a uniformed Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy walked into Home Depot carrying an empty 5-gallon bucket.
Moments later, he walked out with the bucket in hand, now full of merchandise. He left a note by the cash register at the front of the store south of Everett on Highway 99. He then exited the store without paying for the bucket or the items inside, according to a search warrant filed by a sheriff’s office investigator obtained by The Daily Herald.
The deputy then reportedly went to his patrol car in the parking lot and put the bucket inside. It’s unclear what was in the bucket, other than disposable gloves worth $19.99.
Over the next month, the deputy would repeatedly steal from the Home Depot in a similar fashion while working as security there, taking at least $850 worth of merchandise, the warrant alleges.
On Sept. 20, the sheriff’s office put the deputy on administrative leave “pending a criminal and an internal investigation,” spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe said. The Daily Herald is not naming the suspect because he has not appeared before a judge.
Under sheriff’s office policy, employees can work off-duty with approval from the sheriff. To get approval, the employee has to complete a permit.
The deputy had worked at Home Depot dozens of times this year, including Aug. 18, the first time he is alleged to have stolen.
On Aug. 24, the deputy grabbed a bucket, put in two packs of disposable gloves and accessories for phone chargers, security footage reportedly showed. He picked up some other items, but they couldn’t be seen on the video. Six packs of gloves were sold that day. None were to the deputy. No one bought the phone charger accessories that day.
Hours later, he left the Home Depot “without making any attempt to purchase the merchandise, and proceeded to load the unpaid for merchandise into his patrol vehicle and exit the Home Depot property,” sheriff’s office investigator William Geoghagan wrote in the warrant late last month.
The value of the items was $93.37, not including some merchandise that couldn’t be identified via video, according to court papers. The Home Depot employee sign-in log showed the deputy worked from 6 a.m. to noon that day.
Two days later, on Aug. 26, the reported value for the deputy’s allegedly stolen merchandise was $218.43.
On Sept. 1, the value was $63.83, again not including some unidentified items, according to the warrant.
On Sept. 4, the deputy bought a Coke and then took $138 in merchandise, the investigators wrote in the warrant. Three days later, it was another $105.14. Three more days later, it was reportedly another $109.38. Four more days later, it was yet another $104.42.
Meanwhile, Home Depot staffers had been looking into the alleged thievery since late August. They followed along as the deputy stole more and more from the store until they reported it to the sheriff’s office. His employer placed him on leave within a day of the report, according to a sheriff’s spokesperson.
The employee’s patrol car was impounded. On Sept. 21, stolen items from Home Depot appeared to still be inside the vehicle, Geoghagan writes.
The warrant noted there was evidence of second-degree theft, second-degree organized retail theft and second-degree possession of stolen property.