Credit union burglary take: $1

Most bank robbers try the direct approach in stealing cash: Enter a bank or credit union during business hours and demand it. Homer Police last week charged a Homer woman with taking a back-door approach when she allegedly broke into the Alaska USA Credit Union at about 1:45 a.m. last Friday. 

Sierra M. Steen, 23, was charged with second-degree burglary, third-degree theft, both felonies, third-degree criminal mischief and resisting arrest.

Her take? One dollar, a staple remover, mail belonging to an Alaska USA employee, business cards and a 2013 Alaska USA pocket calendar, police alleged in charging documents.

“We can only surmise that she thought for some strange reason she would be able to get a lot of money. She basically got nothing,” said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl. “This is an especially stupid crime. Let’s face it.”

According to a criminal complaint by Officer Larry Baxter, at 1:44 a.m. April 5, Alaska USA security notified police of an intruder when an alarm was tripped. Police responded within 3 minutes and officers surrounded the building on the Sterling Highway near Main Street. 

Police saw a broken window in the rear or south side of the building. Officer Ed Stading saw a woman in a black hoodie try to leave from the east side of the building. He ordered her to stop and she ran back into the credit union. She then ran out the front door.

Officers told the woman, later identified as Steen, to stop and show her hands. She tried to walk away from police, but they took her to the ground and tried to handcuff her, Baxter wrote. Steen “turtled up” by tucking her right hand into her body. Police touched Steen on her upper back with a Taser, a so-called “drive stun” that causes pain, Robl said. Steen then gave up her hands and was cuffed.

Police found drawers that had been forced open in the credit union and a large rock inside that appeared to have been used to break an inside glass door. Blood was seen on a wall near the broken back window. Steen had scrapes and cuts on her legs and back, torn clothing and blood on her hands, but did not require hospital care, Robl said. She appeared to have entered through the broken back window, he said. Steen also had slurred speech and an odor of alcohol, but refused to do a breath-alcohol test.

While he did not want to speak to Alaska USA’s security procedures and how cash is stored, Dan McCue, senior vice-president of corporate administration, said federal banking regulations have strict requirements for storing money.

“We’re held to very high standards safeguarding any kind of negotiable items,” McCue said.

Robl said that except for the items police found on Steen, nothing else of value was taken from the credit union. Steen has two previous convictions for theft in the past five years, one in 2009 and another in 2011. The 2009 conviction was a set aside after the terms of a suspended imposition of sentence were fulfilled. The 2011 charge was for fraudulent use of an access device, second-degree theft. She was on probation for that conviction and a petition to revoke probation has been filed against her.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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