A thief, who may have hidden inside the Madison County Administration Building after closing Wednesday, broke into five departments and the cafeteria and took an undisclosed amount of cash.
The break-ins were discovered shortly before 6 a.m. by a coroner's office employee working the midnight shift who had been in and out of the office.
The building was closed to the public from about 7:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. Thursday as investigators collected evidence.
Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz said there were no signs of forced entry to any of the building's external doors, which are locked after hours.
"The only thing that is missing is money being either personal funds or county funds used in day-to-day operations," Hertz said.
It was the fourth time in the past 14 months that the building has been burglarized.
"We knew we had a security problem, that's why the board voted to install security cameras in and around the building," Chairman Alan Dunstan said. "It just the cameras haven't gotten here yet."
Dunstan was unsure what alarms the building has.
Because there was no sign of forced entry, Hertz believes the thief either might have been hiding in the building before it closed or is an employee.
"We've pulled out all the stops because this is something that's pretty serious," he said.
Hertz said his department will conduct interviews with employees and administer lie detector tests as needed.
The thief used tools to pry open the doors of the locked offices of the board chairman, county clerk, recorder of deeds, central services, credit union and the cafeteria, Hertz said. The amount of damage has not yet been estimated.
The four vending machines in the cafeteria were destroyed as the thief ransacked them for money.
The last break-in occurred in November when thieves stole money from an ATM. After that, the machine was permanently removed.