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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 28, 2010

Shoplifter won't return to jail


By Lila Fujimoto
Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui Saying she was seeking help through Shoplifters Anonymous after realizing deeper problems led her to steal, a Georgia woman was spared additional jail time and placed on five years' probation Wednesday for shoplifting from a Wailea boutique last year.

"I felt that stealing gave me a sense of accomplishment or at least a notion of success," said Angella Saunders, 40. "I completely underestimated my punishment for stealing."

After earlier pleading no contest to second-degree theft, Saunders was ordered to pay a $1,912 fine, representing four times the value of the stolen merchandise.

Circuit Judge Joel August gave Saunders credit for 12 days she previously spent in jail, suspending the rest of a 60-day jail term. He ordered Saunders to continue to participate in Shoplifters Anonymous.

Her attorney, Al Albrechtson, said Saunders was trying to have her probation transferred to Georgia, where she has two children and works as a driver for a day care center.

She and co-defendant Natalie Manning, 28, were arrested Sept. 22 for shoplifting two dresses valued at $478 from the Enchantress Boutique at The Shops at Wailea. Police caught up with the two at Kahului Airport as they were about to leave Maui to return to Georgia.

Before her arrest on Maui, Saunders had "five or six" misdemeanor convictions for theft, Albrechtson said.

Since January, she has participated in the 12-step support group for people who are kleptomaniacs and shoplifters, he said.

"For the first time in her life, she has acted to get help rather than trying to resolve this problem on her own," Albrechtson said.

He said the program advocates guidelines such as not buying anything you don't have money for and not carrying a large purse or wearing baggy clothes that would make it easier to conceal stolen items.

"It may seem obvious," he said. "Yet for someone who has this propensity, it's not only obvious. It's imperative they follow these steps."

Saunders apologized, saying, "I had no intentions of stealing."