MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Investigators say a former employee of HMSHost who worked at Mitchell International Airport stole $20,235 before hopping on a plane to Turkey. Now, officials are having difficulty locating the man, though FOX6 News has learned they are close to filing charges.
Most of the food and beverage stands in Milwaukee's airport are managed by HMSHost Services. The multi-million dollar company operates in numerous airports while employing thousands of people. In early December, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office believes one of those employees made off with tens of thousands of dollars.
According to search warrants obtained by FOX6 News, investigators learned their primary suspect had "a severe hatred of the USA and only became a U.S. citizen to obtain enough money to start his own business."
The man is originally from Ethiopia. FOX6 News is not naming the man because he has not yet been formally charged.
Search warrants describe exactly how the crime went down. They say the suspect first entered through a side door typically used by employees. They describe him as wearing a dark hoodie and hiding his face while walking deliberately and with a distinct gait. They describe how he purposely hid his face from surveillance cameras while walking directly to where the cash was kept. There he showed inside knowledge on how to get the money.
Investigators say the suspect disabled several (but not all) surveillance cameras inside that room, and he knew exactly how to access nine locked safes inside the cash room, all of which required two keys to enter. From the time he entered the airport to getting in his car with the cash, it took just over 30 minutes.
Court documents show it was the suspect who called police the next morning.
The documents say he cooperated with investigator interviews during the following week.
However, on December 17th, deputies say they called him in for fingerprints, and that's when he stopped showing up. According to search warrants, that's when the suspect fled the country.
The search warrants state the suspect "is believed to have flown to Turkey from O'Hare International Airport on December 18, 2012."
An employee with HMSHost told FOX6 News they've since changed all the locks and altered some of their security procedures, but went on to say its difficult to prevent a theft when its an inside job.