Over $123k stolen from Clear Lake tattoo business
(ABC 6 News) – 39-year-old Malorie Hallock is accused of stealing $123,665.45 from Studio 65, where she was once an employee.
Hallock had been friends with the tattoo shop’s owner, Merry Weiss, for 14 years. Weiss hired Hallock as a receptionist back in January of this year.
It was around the same time Weiss lost a tattoo artist who brought a lot of money into the business.
“I knew that when they left we would see a change in what the shop was bringing in,” said Weiss.
However, as time went on, Weiss realized there was money going missing.
“I was getting alerts on my phone like ‘hey your account is dangerous,’ and the bank was calling me, and I’m like, there’s no way with this many artists, this has never been an issue,” said Weiss.
Weiss notified Clear Lake Police on October 11 that she suspected an employee was stealing from her.
“It kind of felt like a bad dream even when she admitted to me that she did it, I still couldn’t fully grasp that it actually happened,” said Weiss.
According to the criminal complaint, Hallock made large deposits into her bank account that matched the amounts that had been stolen from Studio 65.
Lt. Brandon Heinz from CLPD says it’s one of the biggest theft cases the department has dealt with.
“It varies, sometimes business owners, they catch things sooner. This one just happened to go on for several months,” said Heinz.
Hallock was arrested on November 16, then released on bond later that day. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 1.
“Probably the worst part about it to me was how to get attention off what she was doing, she kinda threw me under the bus and told all the artist here that Merry’s doing this,” said Weiss.
Lt. Heinz says business owners should call the police as soon as they notice something suspicious.
“Keep a real close eye on the deposits, have a good accountant, double-check things, money coming in and out of the business,” said Heinz.
Weiss hopes that no other business owners will have to learn this lesson the hard way. She encourages anyone who has employees that handle cash to get commercial crime insurance to protect themselves if they end up in a similar situation.
The one good thing Weiss says has come out of this awful situation, is that she’s been able to work out the flaws in how the business handles money.
Weiss hopes the community will continue to support Studio 65 as they push forward.