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Greenville woman charged with organized retail theft

A Greenville woman faces charges of organized retail theft, multiple counts of felony larceny and possession of stolen goods after police say she stole items from Belks in Washington and returned them for gift cards at a Belks store in Pitt County.

Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford said loss-control staff at Belks flagged Ward’s activities on surveillance footage on four different occasions on Dec. 10, Dec. 14, Dec. 27 and Dec. 31.

“Based on those four occurrences, she was charged with not only larceny, but organized retail theft, because during the course of the investigation, it was determined that she was taking the items to the Belks in Greenville and receiving gift cards,” Drakeford said.

All told, Ward is accused of stealing more than $6,500 in goods. In Beaufort County, she was charged with organized retail theft, four counts of felony larceny, three counts of possessing stolen goods and one count of misdemeanor child abuse.

Information on the child abuse charge was not immediately available.

According to records from the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Ward was convicted of shoplifting in Martin County in 2013. In 2017, she was convicted of three counts of misdemeanor larceny and one felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses. In both cases, Ward was sentenced to probation. According to arrest records, Ward was also charged with one felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses in July 2018.

In the City of Washington, Drakeford said retail theft accounts for 48 percent of all larcenies. While the Washington Police Department has taken steps to reduce the numbers of retail thefts, Drakeford says the crime continues to present challenges for his department and business owners.

“That’s still an alarming number for us,” Drakeford said. “So we’ve been working with retailers and trying to get them to understand their measures and getting them to work with us. By their men and women looking at the camera data, we’re able to go back and catch those who they didn’t catch when the event actually occurred. It’s just being vigilant.”