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Five W.Va. residents charged in alleged scheme

November 30, 1999|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? Five people were charged this week in an alleged scheme in which more than $8,000 in digital video discs and other electronic equipment were stolen from five Wal-Marts in the Tri-State area, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Lonnie E. Pennington, 29, David L. Pennington, 33, and Jack R. Pennington, 27, all of Kearneysville, W.Va.; Amanda R. Smith, 21, of Inwood, W.Va.; and Christine Crosbie, 43, of Falling Waters, W.Va., were arrested Thursday afternoon by West Virginia State Police at Famous Pawn Brokers at 911 Winchester Ave., according to court records .

The three men were arraigned Friday on charges of transferring stolen property, conspiracy to bring stolen property into West Virginia and fraudulent schemes, according to court records. The two women were charged with bringing stolen property into the state, conspiracy to bring stolen property into West Virginia and fraudulent schemes, according to records.

In his complaint, Trooper J.D. Burkhart said the five admitted that they stole DVD box sets Thursday morning from Wal-Mart in Hagerstown, then sold them at the pawn shop before noon. The property had a value of about $709, according to the complaint.

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The store manager at the Martinsburg Wal-Mart reported at least $4,284 in stolen DVDs and Belkin-brand iPod FM tune bases, according to the complaint.

When the five were arrested, they allegedly had about $1,337 in DVDs that were stolen Thursday from two Wal-Marts in the Winchester, Va., area, according to the complaint.

Smith admitted that she and Crosbie would put DVDs selected by the men into their large purses, then go to the front of the store near where Lonnie Pennington would be sitting, having already purchased a DVD, according to the complaint.

"... As he was preparing to exit the business, (Smith) and Ms. Crosbie would walk out in front of him and the alarm would sound," according to the complaint.

The women would continue to walk, but Lonnie Pennington would wait and show the store clerks a receipt for the DVD he purchased and then leave, making them believe he somehow activated the alarm, according to the complaint.

Burkhart said Smith told him the scam also happened at the Wal-Mart in Charles Town, W.Va.

Magistrate Joan V. Bragg set $50,000 cash-only bonds for all three men, and $30,000 bonds for the women, according to court records.

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