LAKEWOOD - A Jamestown woman has been charged with five counts of petit larceny following an investigation by the Lakewood-Busti Police Department.
Jena S. Blocker, 26, of Niagara Avenue, was arrested last week on two warrants stemming from a string of thefts from Wal-Mart on Fairmount Avenue. The thefts date back to December, Lakewood-Busti police said in a news release.
Police said Blocker was observed on Feb. 4 placing items belonging to Wal-Mart into a shopping cart before walking past the check-out counter. Blocker then proceeded to the customer service desk and returned the items for a gift card.
Store personnel detained Blocker and turned her over to police.
After an investigation, officers learned Blocker had previously stolen items outright from Wal-Mart on Dec. 22, 2012; Jan. 24, 2013; and Jan. 25. Police also charged her with second-degree impersonation for the Feb. 4 incident for identifying herself as someone else during a merchandise transaction.
Thefts from the Fairmount Avenue store have almost become commonplace, much to the dismay of police.
"We're finding more and more of these thefts in retail," said Sgt. Paul Gustafson, investigator for the Lakewood-Busti Police Department. "It's not something that is tolerated and stores are cracking down."
Gustafson said he communicates with loss-prevention personnel from Wal-Mart on a routine basis.
"They're in my office daily," he said. "We have a relationship that makes it easy to work with. It can be frustrating with the volume, but we work close together to ensure everything is covered."
Blocker is expected to be back in Busti Court on Feb. 19 to answer the charges.
Lakewood-Busti police also announced Tuesday it has charged Johanna I. Vazquez following an investigation of stolen credit cards in the town of Busti. Vazquez, 29, of West Sixth Street, Jamestown, was charged with two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, two counts of second-degree forgery and two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Police learned Vazquez had been using a stolen credit card at several stores inside Chautauqua Mall on Jan. 24. She was arraigned in Busti Court and sent to Chautauqua County Jail.