Manager charged with ripping off gas station to buy lottery tickets

GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- A gas station manager's day went from bad to worse after he was demoted Tuesday morning only to be arrested and charged with stealing from his employer hours later.

According to charges filed with Pierce County Superior Court, a regional manager arrived at the Shell station on Olympic Drive at 6 a.m. to demote manager Andrew Hilfiker, 29, due to various issues at the business.

When the regional manager asked Hilfiker to open the safe and ATM so they could make a count, Hilfiker said he forgot his keys at home and had to go get them.

Two hours later, Hilfiker hadn't returned to the station and wasn't responding to texts and phone calls, according to the charging documents.

Hilfiker did eventually come back after Gig Harbor Police Department officers responded to the station and viewed surveillance footage reportedly showing Hilfiker opening the ATM and safe, meaning he had the keys.

According to the charging documents, Hilfiker repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, even after watching the surveillance footage, but eventually admitted to taking money out of the ATM to cover the till, which had been coming up short.

He told officers he was trying to figure out who was stealing from the till and was afraid he would lose his job if the till continued to come up short. He said he had put $2,460 into the ATM that day to make it balance.

After further questioning, Hilfiker told officers he had been stealing from the till since January because of a gambling problem and financial troubles, according to the charging documents. He reportedly said he would take money from the till to buy lottery tickets then take money from the ATM to cover the till.

Approximately $5,000 worth of cigarettes went missing from the station in April and May, and Hilfiker admitted to stealing at least some of those, as well, according to the charging documents.

Hilfiker has been charged with theft.