Would-be shoplifter doesn't get too far

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Crime: Artists help cops track down suspect

By Tris DeRoma

Artists may seem like peace-loving folk, but as one Los Alamos resident found out the hard way, if you steal from them, they will hunt you down as relentlessly as the toughest bounty hunter.

That seemed to be what happened Nov. 28 when alleged shoplifter, Melissa Carpenter, decided to help herself to items on display at the Fuller Lodge Art Center. She made off with numerous pieces, according to a Los Alamos Police Department report.

Taken were a denim bag, a decorated rock, a dog necklace and agate turquoise necklaces, mosaic turquoise earrings, a lapis sterling ring, turquoise sterling ring, turquoise butterfly earrings, epoxy earrings, fingerless gloves designed for texting, a ring box, a ring dish, a small plate, two purses, a scarf and a turquoise money clip. The items were all worth about $969.03 with tax, according to the police report.

Among the purloined items were some that an art show volunteer, Deborah Stone-Richard, created herself. When she observed Carpenter acting strangely and then noticed that there were many items missing after she left, she notified police and then went looking for Carpenter herself.

Stone-Richard and some other volunteers eventually tracked Carpenter down at Smith’s Food and Drug center. Three LAPD officers showed up and one of the volunteers pointed at Carpenter and told the officers, “That’s her.”

As she was taken into custody, one of the officers asked her why she did it.

“Carpenter stated she took the items because she didn’t have any money,” the arresting officer recounted in the report.

Police found most of the items in her purse. A further search of her person revealed three more jewelry pieces, bringing the total value of Carpenter’s foiled heist to $1,409.01 including tax.

Carpenter, 36, was briefly in custody before being released on a $4,000 bond. She was charged with one count of shoplifting, a fourth-degree felony.

Carpenter could be facing up to 18 months in prison if found guilty of the felony charge.