Woman jailed for stealing tots' toys
By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 11, 2006 1:54 PM
A woman who stole toys from a collection box just before Christmas in 2004 has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and two felony charges.
Kimberly Dawn Crawford Riveros, 34, of Dunn was fined $2,000 and sentenced in Wayne County Superior Court to 36 months of supervised probation.
"I'm glad the case has been resolved," said Investigator Dwayne Dean, who led the Goldsboro police inquiry of the theft.
Ms. Riveros was accused of stealing about $700 worth of toys from two Toys for Tots collection box at the Wal-Mart store in Goldsboro. She was identified from photographs obtained from a videotape from a surveillance camera at the store.
Police Chief Tim Bell said the videotape was enhanced through the department's new computer system. It enabled police to transfer video evidence in a digital format to a hard drive, then enlarge it and send it out digitally to news organizations.
The photos showed the suspect entering and leaving the store and then leaving in a white sport utility vehicle. The photos were shown on televised newscasts in eastern North Carolina, and callers identified her.
Ms. Riveros claimed that she was picking up the toys for distribution elsewhere. She said she was preparing food boxes for her Have-A-Heart Foundation in Dunn and was called Nov. 23 by someone who said he was with Toys for Tots and asked her to pick up the toys at Goldsboro, Clinton and Smithfield.
Because she said her mother lives in Goldsboro, she came here first. She collected the toys from boxes at the store's two main entrances. An employee asked her if she were with Toys for Tots and she said she was not, but she said her foundation was a partner with Wal-Mart. Before her story could be verified, she scooped up smaller toys and left before the employee returned.
Ms. Riveros said she was supposed to meet a Toys for Tots representative in a burgundy van at the Food Lion supermarket parking lot in Newton Grove and drop off the toys. But no one showed up, and she said she put the toys in a shed where she stored other donations for her foundation.
Six days later, Ms. Riveros was called by Goldsboro police, and she went to the department to explain the situation that she called a misunderstanding. She said she had heard about her photos being on television.
The Toys for Tots coordinator in Wayne, Sampson and Duplin counties -- Connie Lashmet of Magnolia -- said no one had authorized Ms. Riveros to take the toys. She said Ms. Riveros' story was "very suspicious" and said her phone calls to the defendant were not answered.
After the story of the toy theft broke, Ms. Riveros was charged by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense.
Ms. Riveros had taken bogus letters in September to the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Goldsboro and obtained a utility trailer and a lawn tractor with them.
Detective Sgt. Dean Roscoe said the case was solved Dec. 21 when a caller said the woman was the same one who had been arrested for stealing toys from Wal-Mart.
Ms. Riveros was sentenced to 120 days after pleading guilty to misdemeanor larceny. The term was suspended on condition that she complete 24 months of supervised probation and pay the court costs.
She was sentenced to 15 to 18 months on each false pretense charge. The two terms were suspended on condition that she complete 36 months of supervised probation, including 12 months of intensive probation, pay $2,000 in fines, $2,509.25 in restitution and the court costs.
Judge Jerry Braswell of Goldsboro also ordered Ms. Riveros to dissolve her foundation, provide documentation of the dissolution to her probation officer and not be involved in any charitable solicitation.
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