Lufkin woman accused of stealing thousands from loan business

Erica Simmons mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Erica Simmons mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin Police have arrested a woman accused of stealing at least $11,000 from the cash loan business in which she worked.

The investigation began on November 7 when the owner of Needmore Cash, located at 801 E. Denman Ave., said an employee, Erica Lyne Simmons, 40, of Lufkin, had stolen thousands from the business.

The owner said he conducted an internal audit and learned that the money going in for deposits and the amount being loaned out were not matching. He said he found fake checks on his daily work sheets and the work computer and he could show $11,000 was stolen, according to the affidavit.

The owner said he was still investigating and believes the amount stolen could be as high as $32,000. He said Simmons confessed to stealing money from the businesses and in a text message said she would pay him back $15,000.

The detective obtained a warrant for Simmons' arrest on Wednesday and she was booked into the Angelina County Jail on Thursday. She was released on a $2,500 bond.

Ellen Trout Zoo Director, Gordon Henley, had a similar situation happen to him when employee Rita Cambiano stole more than 14- thousand dollars from the gift shop where she worked.

"There's a point in which the people that work for you have to be trusted,"said Henley.

The theft was a shock for him.

"Understood the business, did the ordering and merchandising, operated the stand very well. So, it was just a complete surprise," said Henley.

Henley says, the outcome may have been different if he'd conducted a background check prior to Cambiano's hiring.

"Definitely do a background check, if they're handling money and that type of thing. But, we can never tell what a potential employee may or may not do just based on the interview process," said Business Service Manager of Workforce Solutions, Catherine Adams.

Background checks don't always weed out potential criminals, but they do point out past convictions, since thieves don't fit just one description.

"We really cannot specifically say if it would be just a regular "Joe" off the street or the person would come in in a suit," said Adams.

While theft is often unexpected, proper loss prevention policies can help employers.

"They need checks and balances for those loss prevention policies, as well as possibly hiring additional security or placing cameras in those areas where they feel like theft may occur," said Adams.

Adams tells KTRE that most thefts that occur are internal, however they are also avoidable.

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