A theft at the Shelburn Dollar General was an inside job, according to authorities.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department was quickly able to close the case after the department received a call Monday from the store, reporting that an overnight office break-in had occurred.
A store employee described arriving for work in the early morning hours to find the front door unlocked. According to the employee, the burglar alarm had also been deactivated.
No signs of forced entry were visible.
Further investigation revealed that the safe in the office had been opened with no signs of forced entry. The manager believed several thousand dollars in cash was missing from the safe.
It was also discovered that the perpetrator had removed the hard drive from the video surveillance system.
Suspecting a potential employee related theft, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Lieutenant William Snead obtained a list of employees who had keys to the building, knew the alarm code and had the combination to the safe.
Within a few hours, authorities spoke to employee Dustin J. Cottrell, 28, of Shelburn. Cottrell first denied knowledge of the crime, but after some time admitted to the burglary.
A garbage bag containing what appeared to be several thousand dollars in cash was found in Cottrell’s possession.
Lt. Snead took Cottrell into custody around 2 p.m. Monday.
Cottrell was transported to the Sullivan County Jail and charged with burglary, a level 5 felony and theft, a level 6 felony.
His initial bond was set at $23,000, with ten percent allowed.