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Clerk charged with faking robbery

| December 21, 2004 11:00 PM

A Cardinal True Value employee has been charged with faking an armed robbery and pocketing the cash he reported stolen.

Robert Stradley, 32, is facing misdemeanor charges of theft and making false reports to law enforcement. In early November, Stradley reported that he had been robbed at knifepoint while working alone in the store near closing time on a Saturday afternoon.

³I personally believe that the robbery as reported didn¹t occur,² said Chief Clay Coker of the Libby Police Department.

A number of things about Stradley¹s story just didn¹t add up, Coker said.

³We had suspicions from the beginning because he was so distraught when he called, yet he could describe in great detail what had happened, which is unusual,² Coker said.

Stradley drew his own sketch of the robber and provided details that would have been difficult to notice under the circumstances, Coker said.

Stradley reported that the robber had fled out the back door of the store, but the door was closed when officers arrived at the scene. The design of the door would have required the robber to close the door after running out, which seems unlikely, Coker said.

The investigation also turned up evidence that Stradley, a short time after the incident, was in possession of an amount of cash similar to that reported stolen, Coker said.

Stradley is charged in city court. He was given until early January to appear and answer to the charges.

The incident at the hardware store was the second reported armed robbery in Libby in less than a month. In October, a bartender and a patron at the Eagles lodge on a Sunday night reported that a man wearing a ski mask and carrying a scoped rifle locked them in the bathrooms before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of money. The male patron called 911 on a cell phone while locked in the bathroom, but the suspect was nowhere to be found by the time officers arrived a few minutes later.