Two Charged After Authorities Find Over $800 Worth of Stolen Merchandise in Clarion Borough Residence

Jacob Deemer

Jacob Deemer

Published February 16, 2024 5:35 am
Two Charged After Authorities Find Over $800 Worth of Stolen Merchandise in Clarion Borough Residence

 width=MONROE TWP., Pa. (EYT) – State Police in Clarion have filed criminal charges against a man and woman who reportedly stole over $800.00 worth of items from Walmart.

According to court documents, Clarion-based State Police filed criminal charges against 34-year-old Aaron Mitchel Steele, of Clarion, and 24-year-old Ashley Dawn Priester, of Slippery Rock, in Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey C. Miller’s office.

According to a criminal complaint released on Thursday, February 15, 2024, PSP Clarion assisted the Clarion County Sheriff’s Office and Clarion Borough Police with a warrant service for Aaron Steele in the 200 block of Miller Place in Clarion Borough, around 12:56 p.m. on October 13, 2023.

Steele was located on the scene and taken into custody. Also at the residence was Ashley Preister, the complaint states.

The complaint indicates a retail theft investigation was self-initiated by authorities after observing brand-new empty packaging for multiple items on the porch of the residence. Through investigation, Chief Bill Peck verified that the items were stolen from Walmart in Monroe Township, Clarion County, the day prior by Steele and Preister.

The two individuals made multiple trips to their vehicle, which included carrying merchandise out of the store and placing it in the vehicle. This also included concealing items in a black plastic tote and pushing the cart out of the store, the complaint notes.

All three trips to the vehicle included passing the final point of sale without purchasing the items, the complaint states.

Multiple empty new packaging and multiple stolen items were observed in plain view in the residence and the accused’s vehicle, the complaint indicates.

Priester was interviewed and admitted that she and Steele were there and stole the items. Investigators asked Preister to give PSP any items that were on the property or in her vehicle to be returned to Walmart. Preister gave State Police multiple items from the residence and from inside her vehicle. The items were then returned to Walmart, the complaint notes.

Preister then explained that she told Steele that they shouldn’t be stealing, but they did it anyhow, according to the complaint.

Loss Prevention was given all of the recovered property and gave PSP a receipt showing the value of all of the stolen items. Loss Prevention employees explained that they observed Steele and Preister on the camera concealing items, and also carrying some out of the store in plain view, the complaint states.

Loss Prevention employees also explained that three trips in total were made out to the vehicle and all three times they passed the final point of sale, the complaint indicates.

The vehicle description and the license plate number for the vehicle they arrived and departed in were provided to police.

Loss Prevention employees played part of the video from the incident for investigators, and it was obvious that it was Preister and Steele in the footage. Preister’s vehicle was observed at the scene and the color, make, model, and license plate matched the pictures that Walmart obtained from their cameras from the day prior. The PA registration plate was verified to be registered to Preister, the complaint notes.

The miscellaneous items stolen caused Walmart to sustain a monetary loss of $842.57. Based on the dollar amount and Steele having a prior retail theft conviction, this is graded as a misdemeanor 1 offense, according to the complaint.

Steele was charged with the following on Monday, February 12:

  • Retail Theft – Take Merchandise, Misdemeanor 1

He will be arraigned on March 6, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. in front of Judge Miller.

Priester was charged with the following on Thursday, February 15:

  • Retail Theft – Take Merchandise, Misdemeanor 1
  • Retail Theft – Transfer Container, Misdemeanor 1

Priester’s preliminary arraignment is scheduled for March 11, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. with Judge Miller presiding.

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