Women Used Disguises to Steal In Several States, Police Allege

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2008

For two women accused of stealing from a Pier 1 Imports store in Annapolis, a theft charge got a lot more serious when police searched their car and found evidence suggesting a shoplifting scheme that covered at least four states and involved the use of disguises, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

Natasha Parks, 31, and Leslie Thompson, 47, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., were charged with 12 counts of theft, Lt. Jeffrey Silverman said. They were being held without bond at the county detention center yesterday.

The women were arrested Friday after allegedly stealing $5,796 worth of merchandise from 12 Annapolis area stores -- including Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret and Macy's -- in about two hours, Silverman said. Each had false identification cards, and their car contained wigs that were part of disguises to conceal their identities, he said.

"In the search of the vehicle, they found directions to malls in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey," Silverman said.

Investigators think the shoplifting scheme involved the exchange of stolen merchandise for gift cards at high-end retailers and department stores, police said.

"They definitely knew what they were doing," Silverman said.

The women, who stayed one night at an Anne Arundel County motel, had "boosting bags," or shopping bags lined with aluminum foil, to avoid setting off security scanners at store exits, Silverman said. They also had bulky jackets with holes cut in the lining so merchandise could be hidden there.

At the Pier 1 store, the women fled after being confronted by an employee, Silverman said. They were arrested outside nearby Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis after Officer Jennifer O'Donnell spotted their vehicle. The women were linked to thefts at three different shopping centers in Annapolis that morning, he said.

Also found in the car were receipts from the previous week from stores in Connecticut, New York and Delaware, as well as White Marsh Mall in Baltimore County. The receipts were for items that the women had stolen at one store and exchanged for gift cards at a location where the retailer had another outlet, Silverman said. There was also "a list of names of stores and items that they had to return" inside the car, Silverman said.

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