Police: Woman stole during kids-only shopping spree

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FORTVILLE — A Greenfield woman admitted she got a little “greedy” while tagging along during a shopping spree that members of the Fortville Police Department had recently for children in need.

Her children had been invited to participate in the program and were partnered with an officer to buy clothes and toys.

But the woman admitted she’d filled a cart full of items for herself, too, and checked out right along with everyone else with $350 worth of items — despite being warned several times the day was to benefit the kids.

When she was caught, she told investigators she thought she was allowed to shop for herself. After all, she’d done the same thing the year before when her kids took part in the same charity program.

Evelyn Turner, 38, 2165 W. County Road 100N, Greenfield, will serve a 60-day jail sentence after pleading guilty Thursday to a felony and two misdemeanors, records show.

Two of Turner’s children were selected to participate in the Fortville Police Department’s annual Shop with Public Safety event, which took place Saturday.

Thirty children who attend Mt. Vernon schools took part in the program, and each was allotted $300 to buy Christmas gifts their families might not be able to afford. The program is funded solely by donations from the community.

Prior to shopping day, parents are required to fill out an application that outlines the mission of the shopping program, including that it’s meant only for children under 18. That information is repeated by an officer who calls to confirm the child’s selection in the program.

Fortville allows parents to accompany their children to a breakfast at McDonald’s and then shopping at the Greenfield Walmart. Turner was among those who participated Saturday, police said.

According to a police report, after she arrived at Walmart Saturday morning, Turner asked an officer if it would be OK for her to buy a few items for her 20-year-old son. She was told no, and the officer again explained the program is meant only for children.

One officer recalled seeing Turner in a checkout line with a cart full of items as shopping was winding down Saturday morning. He recalled teasing the woman, saying some of the items — a coffeemaker and a pressure cooker — were odd for a child to select, court documents said.

Turner reportedly joked that her children liked coffee, court documents state. The officer moved on, saying he hadn’t thought anything of the exchange at the time.

The next day, Fortville’s clerk-treasurer discovered an extra receipt among those from the shopping spree. Since 30 child had participated, she expected to have 30 receipts; but 31 receipts were in the pile she’d been given by Walmart.

Officers immediately became suspicious of Turner, court documents state.

A detective visited Walmart and reviewed security camera footage from Saturday morning.

Turner’s two children can be seen in the check-out line, separately, with their police officer buddies, at 8:59 a.m. and at 9:16 a.m.

Turner, with a third cart of goods, is seen coming through the line at 9:22 a.m., court documents state.

Officers confronted Turner, and she admitted to stealing. She said she believed she was allowed to make purchases for herself and thought the town would pay for them, court documents state.

She told police she had sneaked a cart full of times through the check-out line during the 2017 Shop with Public Safety event, too.

Officers searched Turner’s home for the items she’d bought without permission Saturday. They recovered the items; but they also found marijuana and drug paraphernalia, court documents state.

Turner was arrested Wednesday and made her first court appearance Thursday morning.

She pleaded guilty to: theft as a Level 6 felony; possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of paraphernalia as a Class C misdemeanor. She was ordered to serve a 60-day jail sentence.