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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An employee is facing theft charges for allegedly stealing more than $73,000 over two years from Hines Ward’s Tavern 86 restaurant in Seven Fields, Butler County.

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Kimberly Cook, of Cranberry Township, was taken into custody last week at the Evans City-Seven Fields police station and has been charged with theft by unlawful taking.

Kimberly Cook (Source: Butler County Jail)

Investigators say the thefts began in August 2015 and continued through last month.

According to the criminal complaint, police say Cook admitted to taking customers’ cash payments, ringing the sale up to look like it was paid for by a gift card, then used the money herself.

“She found a way to fraudulently create a gift card,” said Howard Shiller, a partner at Hines Ward’s Tavern 86.

Cook had been a server at the restaurant for the past two and a half years.

“She found a back-door way into our POS [Point of Sale] system to fraudulently create a gift card, and then when a guest would pay cash, she would keep the cash and produce a fraudulent gift card and close that check out,” said Shiller.

Police say the thefts were discovered during a routine audit, and Cook was brought in to be questioned on Nov. 1.

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Authorities say all the transactions are linked to Cook’s employee number, and the thefts started small and “greatly increased in the past year.” The criminal complaint reports that Cook told police she had “no idea of the amount that she has taken.”

Shiller said, fortunately, guests were never affected by Cook’s alleged actions.

“Shame on her for cheating her employer,” one customer said.

“I think it’s a terrible thing,” another customer said.

KDKA’s Amy Wadas: “What does Hines say about this?”

Shiller: “He was as equally as shocked as I was.”

Tavern 86 has been in business for about two and a half years. Cook was one of the original employees brought in.

Shiller said he hopes to get at least some of his money back.

Cook has a criminal background and was arrested on charges involving theft on a few different occasions in Allegheny County. She is now in the Butler County Prison.

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KDKA reached out to Hines Ward and hasn’t heard back.