NORTH ADAMS -- A woman arrested in New York last month on larceny and forgery charges has been connected with a theft reported earlier this year in the city, as well as over a dozen others in a total of three states.
Patricia Howard, 52, of Albany, is being held in Saratoga County Jail on multiple charges of possession of stolen property and forgeries. She is also being charged with driving while intoxicated.
Matt Britten, an investigator with the Clifton Park (N.Y.) State Police, said Wednesday that Howard was arrested for DWI on Sept. 26 after she hit the back of a car. She provided someone else’s identification and credit card to police, which started the investigation, he said.
"We recovered a lot of stolen property from her," he said.
So far, state police say they have linked her to at least 15 larcenies that involve taking the pocketbooks or purses of employees in retail stores, he said. Besides the eastern part of New York State, Howard has also been connected to larcenies in Massachusetts, Connecticut and western New York state, he said.
"That is what we’re able to find so far. We’re not sure how expansive her activities were," he said.
He said they believe the larcenies had been taking place since February.
One of the alleged thefts happened in April at Berkshire Emporium and Antiques on Main Street, where an employee’s wallet and checkbook were reportedly snatched from her pocketbook, which was behind the sales counter. Another alleged larceny took place in Lee.
The employee, North Adams resident Lisa Vanderburg, said the woman who took her wallet and checkbook then went on to write two checks at local grocery stores. The woman used her debit card at the Redbox at North Adams Price Chopper, as well as at Williamstown’s Rite Aid and Mobile gas station, and then tried to use it at Staples in Bennington, Vt., she said.
Vanderburg said a New York State Police officer called her recently to ask if she had her debit card stolen.
Britten confirmed that Vanderburg was contacted, and they were able to track her down through the Redbox DVDs Howard had purchased.
Vanderburg said she doesn’t know yet if the North Adams Police Department will bring charges against Howard, but is happy that she has been caught.
"Right now, that is a little bit of closure," she said.