Port Orchard woman arrested after alleged identity theft involving Bainbridge Island woman

A 26-year-old Port Orchard woman was charged with second-degree identity theft and possession and trafficking of stolen property in Kitsap County District Court after she allegedly stole a purse from a Bainbridge Island woman and used her debit card to buy a 42-inch television from Walmart.

Melissa Diane Johnston was arrested by Bainbridge police on Friday, Oct. 18 at her home in Port Orchard.

Authorities said Johnston stole a purse that had been left inside a Bainbridge Island woman's vehicle after she had parked it outside her home on Lovell Avenue on Friday, Oct. 4.

The victim later discovered her Chase debit card had been used for several unauthorized purchases, all made on Oct. 4.

Police discovered a purchase for $631.16 at the Walmart in Bremerton, another purchase for $16.70 at an ARCO AM/PM station in Bremerton, and a $51.51 purchase at a 76 station in Poulsbo.

A Bainbridge officer obtained surveillance video from the Walmart in Bremerton and the video showed a heavy-set woman and two men in the store putting items into a grocery cart that was pushed by the woman. One of the items was a Life's Good-brand, 42-inch television. The woman then paid for the television at a check-out stand with the stolen debit card, according to court records, and she pulled the debit card out of the victim's stolen wallet.

Police discovered the stolen television was sold by the woman at a Cash America pawn store not far from the Bremerton Walmart on the same day it was purchased.

Authorities said the television, purchased from Walmart for $398, was sold to Cash America for $160.

Police also retrieved a photograph of Johnston from the Department of Licensing and found she appeared to be the same person as the one who purchased the television at Walmart.

Johnston also allegedly sold a $50 Pottery Barn gift card that had been in the victim's wallet to the ABC pawn store in Port Orchard for $31 on Oct. 4.

Police also obtained surveillance video from the ARCO station in Bremerton, which allegedly showed Johnston using the stolen debit card to buy two parks of Marlboro cigarettes. Police said Johnston was wearing the same clothing as she did in the Walmart video and was using the same pink wallet that had been in the Bainbridge woman's purse.

Authorities recovered both the television and the Pottery Barn gift card from the two pawn stores. They also obtained documents showing that Johnston has sold the items to the pawn shops.

Johnston was arrested for trafficking stolen property, identity theft, possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of an access control device.

She was charged with second-degree identity theft, second-degree possession of stolen property, and first-degree trafficking of stolen property.

The identity theft charge carries a maximum five-year prison term and $10,000 fine upon conviction.

The possession of stolen property charge also carries a maximum five-year prison term and $10,000 fine upon conviction.

The trafficking charge carries a maximum 10-year prison term and $20,000 fine upon conviction.

Johnston was booked into Kitsap County Jail after her arrest, and she told authorities she was in her seventh month of pregnancy.

Her bail was set at $100,000.





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