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2 charged with stealing money from Pittsburgh Mills wishing well destined for charity

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 9:27 a.m.

A North Huntingdon man and woman arrested for shoplifting at the Pittsburgh Mills mall on Thursday evening were wearing the same outer clothing they wore when carting off Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity's wishing well cash from the mall on Saturday, according to Frazer police.

Amy Lynn Martino, 30, of 131 Edwin Drive and Stephen M. Wray, 33, of 2029 Tara Drive were charged with theft and related charges. They were arrested just before 7 p.m. in Sears, where they allegedly were shoplifting, Frazer police Chief Carl Toscolani said.

A donation box is built into the wishing well, which is on permanent display at an indoor playground in the mall. It's sponsored by Habitat and the Valley News Dispatch‘s parent company, Trib Total Media.

The well, valued at several thousand dollars, was damaged.Police had a clothing description: the woman wore a blue coat and hat, both with white stripes, and the man had on a dark coat with brown pants.

“One of our investigating officers concluded that they had to take the box out through Sears,” Toscolani said.

“So we made arrangements to look at their surveillance tapes.

“Officers were looking at the tapes when someone looked up at the ‘live' camera,” the chief said. “There they were — in the same clothes.”

Police said Martino and Wray admitted taking the wishing well on Saturday and cashing in the change it held.

Police said they also were caught trying to take items from Sears on Thursday and will face charges for that, too.

The organization routinely collected about $100 a week before the holidays, but the collection then jumps up significantly, said Habitat Executive Director Diane Belitskus.

“People of this area are so incredibly generous,” she said, thrilled that the case may have been solved.

She hopes to get the money and box back.

“We're trying to help people in need,” said the Rev. W. James Legge, a pastor and Allegheny Valley Habitat's board president. “This sets us back.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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