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2 Customers at New York Taco Bell Take $1,940--to Go

August 03, 1994|MICHELE SALCEDO | NEWSDAY

Two Taco Bell customers at the store in Shirley, N.Y., didn't get the order they paid $3 for at the drive-up window, but they didn't complain.

Instead of the seven-layer chicken burrito and two Meximelts inside the bag handed to them, they found the day's receipts for the store--$1,940 in cash.

The man and woman have not been seen since they drove out of the parking lot of the Long Island restaurant that day three months ago. Investigators want them for grand larceny.

"Who looks in a Taco Bell bag?" asked Detective Lt. Dennis Caine, commander of the Fifth Squad. "The night manager was putting together the receipts for a night deposit. She went over to the counter, pulled a bag and put the bank bag inside. The girl working the window grabbed the bag, thinking it was an order, and handed it to the people outside."

Janice Smith, a spokeswoman at Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, said the company has specific procedures that employees follow for gathering the cash receipts and making bank deposits, but she declined say whether the assistant manager, Lorraine Schwenker, was following those procedures May 1, when the bag was given to the customers.

Smith said neither Schwenker nor the worker, whose name police did not release because of her age, was fired or asked to resign. She declined to say if either was still working at the Shirley store.

The employee working the drive-up window told police the store was busy that night. "I turned and saw a bag that was sitting on the counter," she said. "I believed that it was the order and handed it out. The bag was light. It was a small order, so I didn't think anything of it."

Schwenker, 21, told police she pulled the receipts from the cash register together, placed them in a sealed bag, and put it and a deposit slip into a paper Taco Bell bag.

"I placed the paper bag on the middle shelf of the takeout counter," Schwenker told police. "I turned my back to get a drink for the ride to the bank. When I turned around, the bag was gone. I had only turned my back for the amount of time it took to fill a small soft-drink cup."

Schwenker told police she asked the employee working the take-out window if she had given the bag out the window.

"She started to cry and looked like she was panicking," Schwenker told police. " . . . I questioned her, saying, 'Didn't (you) look in the bag? You didn't put any napkins in the bag?' "

Schwenker said she ran out after the car, described as a large sedan, possibly a Cadillac, dark blue, made in the mid-1980s, but it was nowhere to be found.

Police said it is a crime not to return property that is given mistakenly.

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