Investigators say a baseball cap and a clipboard helped a thief blend in with his surroundings as he stole computers and credit cards from Medical University of South Carolina buildings over the past two months.
Earl Salley, 36, of North Charleston is accused of stealing computer equipment worth $5,700 and racking up more than $3,200 in charges on credit cards stolen from MUSC workers, according to the university's public safety office.
Salley was charged Friday with four counts of financial transaction card fraud and one count of grand larceny. Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin set bail at $60,000.
MUSC's Public Safety Chief Anthony Dunbar said Salley familiarized himself with the university while working for a restaurant that serviced MUSC. Investigators said he used that knowledge to pose as a delivery man, donning a cap and a carrying a clipboard as he strolled around MUSC looking for items to steal.
The thief stole credit cards from two employees and a volunteer during the past two months. The cards were used to buy thousands of dollars worth of paint, construction materials and other items from area home improvement stores, authorities said.
The thief then turned around and resold those items to pick up quick cash, Dunbar said.
Dunbar said the thief seemed to know the location of surveillance cameras and took pains to shield his face from being taped.
A videotape, however, eventually helped tie Salley to the crimes, Dunbar said. On Dec. 16, a university employee spotted Salley loading two laptop computers and a monitor into a truck driven by an accomplice, according to an arrest affidavit. A security camera also recorded Salley removing the items on a hand truck, the affidavit stated.
Surveillance cameras also documented Salley using the stolen cards to make purchases, affidavits stated.
Charleston police also have warrants to charge Salley with two counts of financial transaction card fraud and one count of larceny, said Detective Craig Kosarko. The fraud counts concern illegal credit card charges made at a Summerville home improvement store, and the larceny charge is connected to the theft of a camera from a business, he said. Salley is expected to have a bail hearing on those charges today.