Jurinda Marie Schweigert, 25, of Missoula, was charged on Friday with felony embezzlement after allegedly stealing nearly $10,000 over nine months from the Crossroads Truck Stop and Travel Center.

Deputy Missoula County Attorney Shaun Donovan said Friday that the manager of the truck stop contacted the sheriff's department that one of his employees may have been embezzling from the business.

"When officers went to the business they were able to take a look at some accounting data that the till system at the truck stop kept that indicated there was a scheme underway where this particular cashier would void a transaction before the customer came in and paid using cash and then left the store," Donovan said. "Except for the money being taken out, there would have been an excess amount of cash in the till at the end of the day. She took care of that problem by taking the money out of the till."

Donovan said surveillance equipment showed thousands of dollars going uncollected by the store.

"There's some significant evidence showing all of that, and the initial calculation shows that the total exceeds $10,000, and that's why the charge of theft by embezzlement was filed," Donovan said. "

Business theft and embezzlement is a growing problem in Western Montana, a fact that was recently addressed by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg at a seminar put on for local businesses. Donovan said there are steps that business owners can take to find and stop embezzlement from happening.

"Business owners are well-advised to be in contact with whoever their business adviser is on a regular basis and make sure there are accounting controls in place, as well as new-technology surveillance systems to catch people in the act," Donovan said. "But for the computer hook-up to the cash register and the video, it would have been pretty difficult to get that figured out."

Schweigert was placed in the Missoula County Jail on $20,000 bail. If convicted, she could spend up to two years in the Montana State Prison, as well as provide full restitution to the truck center.

Deputy Missoula County Attorney Shaun Donovan