Darlington man faces theft charge from bank where he worked, court date coming

A Darlington man, who allegedly stole nearly $100,000 from the bank where he worked, is scheduled to be in court July 16.

Aaron Austin, 32, of the 3500 block of Day Road, was an employee at People’s Bank in the 100 block of North Main Street in Bel Air when he allegedly planned to steal money by leaving doors unlocked and vaults unset over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Austin, who was arrested in April, is charged with theft $25,000 to $100,000 and second- and fourth-degree burglary. He is scheduled to appear in Harford County District Court on July 16 at 8:30 a.m., according to online court records.

Austin’s lawyer, Shane Nolan, said the July 16 court date is “really just a felony dismissal date.”

“It’s almost like a dead date to be dismissed if he’s not indicted yet in circuit court,” Nolan said.

As of Thursday, Austin had not been indicted.

“All I can say is my client maintains his innocence,” Nolan said.

Bel Air Police were called to the bank around 11 p.m. March 18 when multiple motion alarms inside the building went off, Det. Sgt. Henry Marchesani, of the Bel Air Police Department, said.

Officers responded, but didn’t see any signs of an intruder. No doors had been forced open — they were all locked — nor had windows been broken, Marchesani said, so officers cleared the building.

Shortly after 8 a.m. March 19, Austin, the branch manager, called police to report that the bank’s vault room and the vaults inside were open, according to charging documents.

It was determined that $92,000 was stolen from the bank between 12:15 p.m. March 17 when it closed and 9:11 a.m. March 19 when it re-opened.

Video surveillance from inside and outside the bank shows the theft happened around 11 p.m. March 18, according to charging documents.

One view shows a man wearing a black jacket with a gray hood pulled over his head enter the bank’s utility room, which leads to a door that can only be opened from inside the bank if it was left unsecured, according to charging documents.

The thief, who had a right leg limp, walked through the lobby and without taking his hands out of his pickets opened a partition that leads to the vault room. Once there, the suspect enters the vault room and, without turning any lights on, crouches down in front of the bottom vault and removes property, according to charging documents.

Officials provided police with the bank’s video surveillance.

A senior vice president of the bank, Todd Tyson, who reviewed the surveillance tapes told police that Austin, who opened the bank March 17, spent “what seemed like an overly long period of time in the utility room,” according to charging documents.

Austin was also one of three employees working at the bank at the time who have regular access to the keys and combinations of the bank’s vaults, according to charging documents.

During previous checks, Austin spent 10 seconds, 5 seconds and three seconds in the utility room; on March 17, he spent 18 seconds in the room, according to charging documents. He also spent more than 2 minutes in the room, where employees said they had no reason to spend significant time in, later on March 17, according to the documents.

Tyson also said the cash vault had not been closed before the bank was closed on March 17, according to charging documents.

During their investigation, police determined Austin had deposited $2,045 cash into the checking account at his personal bank, where Austin used to work, on April 3, according to charging documents. He deposited $7,015 in cash on April 9 at the same bank and, during a search of Austin’s truck April 24, police found $9,270 in cash hidden behind the driver’s seat.

Austin’s pre-tax salary was $64,890 and his wife was a stay-at-home mother, according to charging documents.

Following that search, Austin was arrested and taken to Harford County Detention Center, where he was initially held on $75,000 bail; he was released on his own recognizance following a bail review, according to online court records.

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