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Charged with theft from Lansford store

Published September 12. 2013 05:00PM

A Lansford woman has been charged by borough police with stealing $44.06 worth of items from the Family Dollar store.

Peggy Sue Hill, 47, of 173 W. Ridge St., Apt. 3, is charged with retail theft. She remains free on $1,000 unsecured bail.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Officer Christopher Ondrus received a call at 11:19 a.m. June 16 from the manager of the Family Dollar store. He went there and spoke with her. She pointed out a gray Dodge pickup truck that was leaving the parking lot. She told him that the female passenger had put items in a shopping cart, but as she was leaving the store, the items were no longer in the cart, and that the woman's purse was bulging and much larger than it had been when she entered the store.

The manager said she confronted the woman, who refused to show her the purse. The woman left.

Ondrus stopped the truck and spoke with the driver, identified as Connie Mertz.

Ondrus asked them if they knew about a theft from the store. Hill said the manager had asked to see her purse, but she denied having taken anything.

Ondrus asked if he could search the truck, and Hill allowed him to search her purse. As he returned the purse, he saw, in plain view on the floor on the back seat, a Family Wellness brand box of gauze and two packs of wax candles with a Family Dollar logo on them, according to the affidavit.

Ondrus picked up the items, and saw a yellow shirt with a Family Dollar tag on it. He asked about it, but neither woman had any idea where it had come from.

Ondrus arrested Hill and retrieved the items. He also found a pack of markers, a yellow and purple shirt, and an LED flashlight.

Mertz told him Hill had left the store first and waited for Mertz to finish shopping. Hill told Mertz that she had taken the items, the affidavit said.

The store manager told Ondrus the women had come into the store looking for boxes. She saw Hill with a shopping cart, and watched her put an item into it, next to her purse.

The manager said Hill did not pay for any items before leaving the store. She said she asked to look in Hill's purse, but that Hill refused and left the store.

Hill was taken to the police station, where she waived her Miranda rights. According to the affidavit, she told police that she and Mertz had gone into the store for boxes, and that she had no intention of taking or purchasing anything. She had a cart, and began putting things into it. She took some items, such as a shirt, out of the cart when she decided she didn't want them. She admitted to putting the boxes of gauze, candles, markers, flashlight and shirts into her purse, with no intention of paying for them.

After being confronted by the store manager, she put the items in the back seat floor of the truck. She said Mertz had no knowledge of the alleged shoplifting. Hill has four prior convictions of retail theft, according to the affidavit.

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