Police: Couple steal thousands from EC Festival Foods store
Jan. 28—EAU CLAIRE — A current employee and a former employee stole thousands of dollars through various methods from an Eau Claire Festival Foods store, police say.
Deanna M. Hurd, 45, 2816 May St., and Troy D. Polencheck, 37, 2025 Mittelstadt Lane, are each charged in Eau Claire County Court with felony counts of retail theft and uttering a forgery. Hurd is charged as a party to a crime.
Hurd and Polencheck are scheduled to make their initial court appearances on Feb. 7 and Feb. 14, respectively.
According to the criminal complaint:
An Eau Claire police officer was sent to Festival Foods, 2615 N. Clairemont Ave., on Dec. 19 regarding a series of thefts at the store. He met with an asset protection specialist and Hurd.
Hurd admitted that she and Polencheck, her boyfriend, stole groceries from the store about 30 times.
Hurd said she felt pressured to help Polencheck, whom she had been dating for the past month, and did not know how to say no.
Hurd told the officer that she and fellow employees were able to cancel transactions on items and then leave the store with those items without paying for them.
Hurd said Polencheck had worked at Festival Foods up until a couple of months prior, but his self-checkout badge, which would allow a person to cancel transactions, was still active.
The asset protection specialist reviewed video footage of Polencheck repeatedly using his badge to cancel transactions and leave with those groceries without paying for them. There was also video footage of Hurd assisting Polencheck with many of these cancelled transactions.
Eleven such cancelled transactions occurred from Nov. 16 to Dec. 16, totaling $3,630 in stolen groceries.
The asset protection specialist told the officer that there were also a few transactions in which Hurd performed no-receipt returns for Polencheck by giving him cash on items he selected from the store shelves but never purchased. Those occurred three times in November, resulting in a total theft of $315.
The asset protection specialist also had surveillance photos from Dec. 18 showing Polencheck bringing in two counterfeit $100 bills and passing them to Hurd, who proceeded to change the counterfeit money into genuine bills of smaller denominations that she then handed back to Polencheck.
Hurd also repeatedly used her employee discount card, which granted 10% off purchases, for store customers. Hurd used the card 46 times for customers from Nov. 11 to Dec. 18, resulting in a $407 loss for the store.
The total loss to the Festival Foods store from the actions of Hurd and Polencheck was $4,351.
If convicted of the charges, Polencheck and Hurd could each be sentenced to up to four years in prison.