By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Police arrested a 32-year-old Lancaster woman in connection to thefts involving the online ordering and delivery of grocery items.
According to Groveport Police Detective Josh Gilbert, from August to November the woman – who was working for an online grocery delivery service – allegedly stole more than $100,000 worth of grocery goods from several central Ohio Kroger stores.
“It adds up very quick,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert said thefts occurred in more than 100 separate incidents. He said the suspect allegedly took items such as food, cookware, coffee makers, toys, pet supplies, and more from the stores. He said the suspect would take the items and then sell them on the street in Columbus for cash. For example, in one incident the suspect received an online order for $78 worth of groceries but charged $1,800 on the client’s credit card and then resold the items she took.
“In just one day involving three victims in Groveport she (allegedly) took $4,000 worth,” said Gilbert.
He said the suspect used two juveniles to help her fill grocery carts.
“Video shows her taking out four to five cart fulls of groceries at a time,” said Gilbert.
Groveport Police tracked down the suspect’s actions digitally because she used her cell phone in the acts.
The suspect, who Gilbert said was cooperative in the investigation, was charged with felony counts of theft, misuse of credit cards, and telecommunications fraud. He said the suspect said she had lost her job and needed the money.
Gilbert emphasized that people who use online service apps should always heed alert notifications and monitor their accounts and deliveries. He said victims should always report thefts even if companies refund them for their losses.
“One victim who did not originally report the theft ended up being a key piece in aiding our investigation,” said Gilbert. “Even if you get your money back, report it.”
Police seek grant money
The Groveport Police are seeking grants from several sources to fulfill some equipment needs.
Police Chief Casey Adams said grant applications for funding were submitted to: the American Rescue Plan, Fire House Subs Foundation, Gary Sinise Foundation, Harbor Freight and Tools Foundation, and Spirit of Blue Foundation.
“Harbor Freight and Tool Foundation provided our detective bureau with $300 in gift cards to purchase equipment for use in investigations,” said Adams. “A previous American Rescue Plan application has been approved and we are awaiting the final certificate for $69,000 in funding for surveillance camera equipment that can be deployed throughout the city.”
Adams said the surveillance camera equipment should arrive in about a month. He said two cameras will be mounted on a mobile trailer that can be moved about the city. An additional three cameras will be placed on poles at State Route 317 and Groveport Road, State Route 317 and Old Hamilton Road, and near the Main Street and Wirt Road intersection.
According to Adams, the cameras will aid officers in determining the direction of travel of suspects, provide visual evidence in vehicle crash areas, and more.
“The cameras will enable us to gather a variety of information on suspects,” said Adams.
Adams said the department also thought it would receive a donation of three ballistic shields from the Spirit of Blue Foundation, but the foundation withdrew the offer.
“They felt there are other agencies with bigger needs than ours,” said Adams. “They expressed regret in the premature award notification and that our application would remain in the 2023 process. I am holding out hope that we will eventually receive the equipment that could prepare our officers for active shooter scenarios.”