Woman charged with theft from Angels of Long Island thrift store in Patchogue

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A nonprofit Patchogue thrift store was robbed on Monday by a customer who slipped bank envelopes of cash, possibly with the help of an accomplice, as the store owner prepared for an event where the store distributes thousands of free diapers to community members in need.

Debbie Loesch, owner of the Long Island Angels store on East Main Street, said the suspect, who was arrested by police, is a regular customer who attended some of his freebies.

“That’s what hurts the most,” Loesch said. “She often does her shopping here and…we have helped her in the past. And if she needed anything, if she needed food for her family, she could ask anyone from my team of volunteers. We want to help. But the fact that she stole from us was really hurtful.”

Maria Gutierrez-Monterey, 40, of Westhampton, has been charged with two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree and issued a ticket to appear. Efforts to reach Gutierrez-Monterey’s defense attorney were unsuccessful.

Records show Gutierrez Monterrey was arrested in June after being accused of stealing credit cards from individuals at several Westhampton stores.

The recent theft happened around 12:40 p.m. Monday as Loesch left his office and went to the back of the store to unload boxes of diapers for distribution the next day.

Loesch said her daughter Brittany, who helps run Angels of Long Island, informed her that she noticed a woman leaving her office. When Loesch went to her office, she found envelopes of cash, intended for the bank, missing, as well as rolled coins for the cash register, her personal debit card and jewelry in the shelves, she said. she declared.

Store workers called police and the panicked suspect was seen on surveillance video throwing $1,200 in stolen cash under a clothes rack moments before his arrest, Loesch said.

While Loesch was able to recover much of the stolen property, $1,600 is still missing and Loesch believes the suspect may have passed the money to a second woman she was seen talking to on the phone. surveillance video. This second woman, Loesch said, was seen under surveillance leaving the store with a black wallet that she did not pay for.

Loesch was forced to close the store for the rest of the day to search for the missing money, which was for rent and payroll, costing her about $1,500 more in potential sales.

“Every month is difficult,” she said. “We have to sell a lot of clothes for $3 to cover our overhead, which is $18,000 a month with no payroll.”

The incident, Loesch said, appeared to have been planned.

“I walked out of my office, closed the door and never gave it a second thought,” Loesch said. “[Gutierrez-Monterey] stood right outside my desk near a shoe display for a while until it was clear… She knew our routine.

Angels of Long Island, which sells discounted items donated by the public, has held events offering free meals, formula, coats and backpacks full of school supplies to community members going through times difficult.

Patchogue-Medford High School Emily Volpe, 16, learned to fly and started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Angels of Long Island to pay their bills. To date, the page has raised nearly $2,700.

“I appreciate what Angels of Long Island does for the community,” said Volpe, whose family donated items to the thrift store. “I’ve done fundraisers for the school a few times and Debbie has always helped out and been very helpful. I just thought it was important to help out.”

Gutierrez-Monterey is due back in court on October 14.

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