FARRELL — A Farrell woman awaiting sentencing on charges related to thefts tied to sob stories she laid on unsuspecting victims was arrested Wednesday for allegedly going on a spending spree with the debit cards and checks of a woman who gave her a ride.
Joy A. Howell, 36, of 930 Hamilton Ave., was arrested at 4:23 p.m. at Idaho Street and Hamilton Avenue, Farrell, on charges of 13 counts of theft, nine counts of access device fraud and two counts of forgery.
Southwest Mercer County Regional police added a charge of drug paraphernalia alleging she had a metal spoon with residue on it in a pocket when she was arrested.
A woman reported to police that on Jan. 10 she was approached by Howell in the parking lot of Farrell Centre Plaza, Sharon-New Castle Road, with a request for a ride to New Castle Avenue, Sharon. The victim said she thought Howell worked in the plaza and took her where she requested, but noticed a day later that her wallet was missing from her purse, police said.
The woman checked with her banks and learned that unauthorized purchases had been made using her debit card and checks had been cashed, police said. The card and checks were in her purse.
On Jan. 11, Howell made the rounds of regional Walmarts, buying a PlayStation 3 in Hermitage, a futon and 30 CDRs in New Castle, and a cellular telephone case, 30 DVRs, dish liquid and other items in Cortland, Ohio, police said.
She bought items online from Autozone and was denied attempted purchases at Kmart in Niles, Ohio, and Sheetz at 1650 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage, police said.
Howell issued stolen checks on Jan. 11 and 12 at 2381 S. Hermitage Road, Hermitage, to buy motor oil, cigarettes, antifreeze, cell phone minute cards, a lighter and a fuel card, police said.
The total amount Howell is accused of stealing is $1,719, police said.