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Cops: Employee fabricated armed robbery story, stole money himself

An employee of Guess Factory Outlet in Tanger Outlets who claimed to be the victim of an armed robbery in December fabricated the story and instead stole the money himself, Riverhead Town police said.

Thomas Whitson, 23, of Mastic Beach had told police that at about 6 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2016 while he was opening the store, an unknown person claiming to have a weapon forced him and another employee into the store and demanded money. The suspect then left the store with cash, Mr. Whitson had told police.

But an investigation uncovered that Mr. Whitson had created the story and stolen the money and also participated in additional thefts, police said.

He was charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony, and falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor, for the December incident. Detective Sgt. Ed Frost said the other employee mentioned in Mr. Whitson’s fabricated story would be not be facing any charges.

The additional thefts occurred on Nov. 28, 2016 when Mr. Whitson allowed two different people to leave the store without paying for clothing. He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor, for those incidents, police said.

Mr. Whitson arraigned in Riverhead Justice Court on Wednesday and he posted $1,500 bail, according to a court clerk. He is due back in court Monday.

Photo caption: Thomas Whitson (Courtesy of Riverhead Town Police).