EXCLUSIVE: A 27-year-old Fair Lawn woman spent much of the past week and a half stealing TV sets from Walmart and ShopRite and then hocking them at a Saddle Brook pawn shop to feed her heroin habit, authorities told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Heather Johnson was carrying a dozen credit cards in her father’s and grandmother’s names, as well as Social Security numbers and other personal identification for four other family members, when she was arrested Monday, Saddle Brook Deputy Police Chief Robert White said last night.
Fortunately, the relatives’ accounts were closed, he said.
“I’m sure the needle, or perhaps what may have been in it,” had something to do with the alleged crimes, White told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Officers who searched Johnson during booking Monday found her carrying a hypodermic needle, he explained.
Johnson pulled the same stunt three different times this month in Rochelle Park, taking $1,200 worth of televisions from a Shop-Rite and hocking them at the same Saddle Brook pawn shop, authorities said.
Rochelle Park detectives said they recovered three of the sets following the thefts, which occurred on Nov. 16 (a 40-inch), last Thursday (the same) and again on Friday (two 32-inch televisions).
“We tracked her down after she used her grandmother’s Price Plus card to track free turkey points prior to the theft,” Rochelle Park Detective Jim DePreta told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
On Monday, Saddle Brook police were called by Walmart security, who said that Johnson first tried buying six wide-screen televisions worth $1,700 — including a 55-inch LED — but was denied because the relative’s credit card that she tried to use was no longer valid.
White said Johnson then “strolled through the store” with the cart and was caught trying to duck out an exit.
Officer Scott Habermann picked her up and brought her to headquarters, where Detective Capt. Vincent Laurentino discovered that similar incidents happened at the same Walmart this past Saturday and in Rochelle Park.
Johnson made it out the door with a 40-inch LED after a closed card was denied at the Walmart on Saturday, then sold it to a pawn shop next door, the deputy chief said.
In addition to the Saddle Brook and Rochelle Park charges, Johnson has outstanding traffic warrants from Westwood for driving while on the suspended list and from Woodland Park, as well as an undetermined criminal warrant from East Stroudsburg, PA, White said.
She was being held on $10,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged out of Saddle Brook with shoplifting, credit card theft, wrongful impersonation and possession of a hypodermic needle and out of Rochelle Park with three counts of shoplifting .
“We’ve seen identity theft from all kinds of victims,” White said, “but not so frequent from your own family.”
MUGSHOT: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE