Categories: Schenectady County
Police allege five men and women organized a four-county dollar store theft spree over the past six months by receiving gift cards in exchange for merchandise they purloined from other stores, in some cases using a child to conceal their loot.
Arrested were: Tara L. Hoyt, 31, of 116 Spring St.; Destiny L. Brooker, 29, of 25 Lexington Ave.; and Christie L. Darling, 29, of 229 W. Fulton St., all in Gloversville; and Jamie L. Brooker, 29, and Todd M. Pearl, 29, both of 70 Cliff St., Canajoharie.
All five members of the alleged theft ring were rounded up following an investigation sparked by a May 13 report that they were shoplifting at the Dollar General store in the town of Palatine, according to a release from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department.
Three were arrested during a May 13 traffic stop that followed an alleged theft. Pearl and Brooker were not in the car May 13 but were arrested later in the investigation.
They all face misdemeanor charges of sixth-degree conspiracy, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and petty larceny. Darling, who allegedly brought her child along to help, was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
From what investigators can gather so far, the operation took place as many as three times a week, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Investigator Barry Serpa said this morning.
A review of a single suspect’s take revealed the theft of about $1,500 in merchandise, Serpa said.
The stores have video surveillance which revealed the group would go shopping together, stuff goods into a black bag and sit the child on the bag to conceal it while another would distract the cashier.
Police believe the group would then take that merchandise to another store with the same name miles away, turn it in as an exchange without a receipt for a store gift card, then purchase Visa gift cards — usable at most retail outlets — for the amount of the items they claimed they purchased.
Police during the traffic stop confiscated 120 items from a single heist at the Dollar General store in the town of Palatine, one of several stores of two different companies in Montgomery and Herkimer counties.
Serpa said police believe members of the group also perpetrated heists in similar stores in Gloversville and in Schenectady County.
Stores believed to have been hit by the group include Dollar General and Family Dollar establishments in Palatine, the village of Fort Plain and St. Johnsville in Montgomery County and Little Falls and Herkimer in Herkimer County.
All five suspects were issued appearance tickets and charges are pending in the other jurisdictions, according to police.