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Restaurant Manager Empties Safe, Caught In Vegas

By: Eyewitness News; Kara Duffy; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News; Kara Duffy; Julie Montanaro Email
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UPDATED July 26, 2013
By Julie Montanaro

Thomasville, GA - An Applebee's manager accused of stealing money from the restaurant is now behind bars in Las Vegas.

News of his arrest at a casino is the talk of Thomasville and David Payne is expected to go before a judge in the morning.

David Payne was caught on surveillance camera at the Applebee's in Thomasville.

Police say he took more than nine thousand dollars in cash out of the safe, put it into a bag and disappeared.

Now, 11 days later and more than two thousand miles away, he's been arrested at a Las Vegas casino.

"We called up the Las Vegas Police Department, they went and searched the hotel parking lot for his vehicle," said Thomasville Police Detective Louis Schofill, "they were able to locate the vehicle, went and found out that vehicle was registered to a room, they then went to that room, knocked on the door, Mr. Payne was inside."

Detectives say Payne was caught at Harrah's with a large stack of cash. Thomasville Police are now checking to see how long he'd been there and if he was caught on tape by any of the casino's surveillance cameras.

"That's just greed for money," said Tommy Smith as he picked up lunch nearby. "You're making good money, and then you go and steal from the company you work for, then just going gambling to lose more money? That's real dumb," Smith said.

Thomasville Police are now trying to find out if this was the only time Payne helped himself to money in the Applebee's safe.

Applebee's franchise vice president Troy Thrasher visited the Thomasville restaurant Friday. He wouldn't comment except to say Applebee's is doing its own internal investigation.

One customer shook her head and said "I just don't think he thought this through."

Payne is expected to go before a judge in Las Vegas for an extradition hearing Saturday morning. Detectives say that'll determine how long it will take to bring Payne back to Thomasville.


Thomasville, GA -

Detective Louis Schofill with the Thomasville Police Department confirmed that 43-year-old David Payne was taken into custody in Las Vegas today (7/25) around 3:30 p.m. eastern time.

He says Las Vegas P.D. found him in a Harrah’s Casino.

Payne was also driving a 2011 dark red Ford Fusion with Florida plates.

Authorities also say they found some of the money he allegedly stole in his vehicle.


By: Kara Duffy
July 24, 2013

Thomasville, GA - Thomasville Police say 44-year-old David Payne was last seen Sunday July 14th, just after midnight. Payne, who is the manager of the Thomasville Applebee's Restaurant, was last seen on camera in the restaurant's back room. Surveillance video shows him leave the room for a moment, return with a bag and is then seen emptying the safe.

"From what we understand there was 9,333 dollars taken from that safe," said Lt. Eric Hampton, with the Thomasville Police Department.

Police say since that night, Payne has disappeared and has only surfaced once, briefly.

"He did leave a letter in the mailbox of his father's residence that apologized for what he had done. However, his father has not heard anything else from him and no one else has heard anything from him since that night," Lt. Hampton said.

We reached out to employees at both the Thomasville Branch restaurant, as well as Applebee's Corporate Franchise; neither would make a comment about Payne, as the investigation is ongoing.

Investigators say Payne, who could be driving a dark red 2011 Ford Fusion is wanted for felony theft by taking.

"The criminal charges, those have to be addressed, but his safety is definitely our priority at this time," Lt. Hampton added.

Anyone with information on Payne's whereabouts is asked to contact Thomasville Police at 229- 227-3249 or Thomasville Crimestoppers at 229-227-3305.


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