It started March 14, when an employee of the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office noticed that the cash kept around to buy lunch and gasoline for witnesses looked a little light.
Usually the locked cash box – which is kept in a locked cabinet behind locked doors – holds between $300 and $400. Everything was in order when the county last audited its contents in November.
When it was opened in March, though, most of the money was missing.
On Tuesday – after conducting an in-house investigation into what might have happened to the cash – the district attorney’s office filed a theft report with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
A total of $305 is gone, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said.
Who took it remains a mystery.
“The reality is I don’t know who would do it,” Bennett said, noting that in addition to his own employees, maintenance crews, cleaning staff and others in the Sedgwick County Courthouse have access to his offices.
The keys to the locked box and cabinet weren’t hidden, and the doors into the offices can be opened with a passcode or master key, he said.
“There’s always the chance, I suppose, that it might be a mistake,” such as a missing receipt, he said. “But I think we’ve all but eliminated that as a possibility.”
A report from the sheriff’s office lists the earliest possible theft date as Nov. 4, which is the day the county last conducted an audit of the cash, Bennett said.
Asked about the case Wednesday, sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning said the case “has been forwarded to detectives for investigation.”
“The detectives will review the case in an attempt to develop suspects,” he said.
Bennett said that since discovering the theft, his office is looking at other ways to pay for minor incidentals for witnesses called to testify in court cases.
Going to a debit-card-like system is one of the options under consideration, he said.
“I don’t want cash on hand anymore,” Bennett said. “It’s worked for years. (This is) the first time we’ve had an issue.
“But I don’t want it to happen again.”