For this museum heist, every little bit counts.
A museum teller was found guilty by a court in Switzerland on Friday of stealing nearly a million Swiss francs by charging an entrance fee paid by visitors at the Bieler Foundation, a prestigious art museum outside Basel.
The court heard that the 54-year-old – whose name was not released for reasons of privacy, as is customary in Switzerland – used a number of tricks to withdraw 986,000 Swiss francs, more than $1.1 million, from the ticket office between 2008 and 2008. and 2019, when she was caught and fired.
“Most likely, it would have continued in this way had it not been discovered,” said presiding judge Marcia Stockey, when announcing the ruling on Friday. Basler Zeitunga local newspaper.
The court sentenced the woman to three years and seven months in prison and a fine of $3,600. She is also responsible for giving back to the museum what she stole, though it is unclear to what extent this money can be recovered.
The cashier used a number of schemes to circumvent internal controls and avoid suspicion.
In some cases, she sold emergency tickets, which the museum had on hand in case the computer system failed, for cash, which she acquired.
She also worked out a ploy whereby she could sell one ticket twice – once by handing over the actual ticket, and a second time by passing the receipt and claiming that the ticket printer wasn’t working – which allowed her to pocket the difference.
Her most brazen ploy — which finally led to her arrest in 2019 — was to simply cancel tickets sold by her colleagues and get refunds. During its brief experience last week, a colleague confirmed that he recognized the cashier’s handwriting on a slew of canceled tickets, which ultimately led to the museum’s lack of interest during its internal review.
According to the Basel Public Prosecutor’s Office, which analyzed the woman’s bank account history, she would take out up to $170,000 a year. She began stealing in August 2008, authorities believe, months after she was first hired, and continued after she was promoted to run the museum’s cashier in 2012.
Tickets at the Beyeler Foundation, one of the most visited museums in Switzerland, cost roughly $29 for the average adult — expensive by European standards, but close to what is now considered the “new normal” for major museums in the United States. The museum attracted 364,000 visitors last year. It is currently showing Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Great Exhibition.
The museum said the thefts amounted to about 1 percent of total income from ticket sales.
According to him, during the trial the cashier appeared unrepentant Basler Zeitung.
Judge Stuckey said the amount the woman stole showed a “high level of criminal energy”. That was also evident in the “insolence and indifference you show here,” the judge added, according to another. Local news source.
“We welcome the fact that the court has now issued a ruling and has therefore provided clarification,” said Dorothy Daines, a spokeswoman for the museum, in an email.
Noting that the museum has added safeguards to its ticketing procedures, Ms Daines said the matter is now closed.
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