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Greensburg police foil alleged shoplifters' aluminum-lined bag scheme

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, 2:00 p.m.
Greensburg police charged Earl M. Davis of Pittsburgh with shoplifting using an aluminum foil-lined bag on Aug. 16, 2017.
Greensburg police charged Earl M. Davis of Pittsburgh with shoplifting using an aluminum foil-lined bag on Aug. 16, 2017.
Greensburg police charged Taelyn T. Rose of Pittsburgh with shoplifting using an aluminum foil-lined bag on Aug. 16, 2017.
Greensburg police charged Taelyn T. Rose of Pittsburgh with shoplifting using an aluminum foil-lined bag on Aug. 16, 2017.

A Pittsburgh couple's alleged shoplifting scheme was foiled Tuesday when Greensburg police said they found an aluminum-lined shopping bag in their car filled with more than $3,350 worth of clothing stolen from area stores.

Earl M. Davis and Taelyn T. Rose, both 18, of Pittsburgh were charged with receiving stolen property and possessing instruments of theft after police discovered the clothing in the trunk of Davis' Toyota sedan when it was searched.

Davis also is charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Rose is charged with providing police with false identification and corruption of minors because two teen girls in the car allegedly helped her steal the clothing, police said.

The couple's bickering as they drove through the city first tipped off police, according to the chain of events detailed in an affidavit.

Patrolman Kenneth Burke reported he saw the car driving erratically and made a traffic stop at 8:48 p.m. at the intersection of Fulton and Tremont streets. He found the registration was suspended because of no insurance, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed before District Judge James Albert.

One of the teens told Burke that Davis was driving erratically because she and Davis were arguing.

The vehicle smelled like marijuana, so Burke summoned the city's K9, he said in the affidavit.

“During the search of the vehicle, officers were able to locate in the trunk of the vehicle $3,351 worth of merchandise that had been stolen from various stores. Also located in the vehicle was a theft detection shielding device, which was a plastic shopping bag lined with aluminum foil,” Burke wrote in the affidavit.

Burke said one marijuana cigarette also was in the bag.

An aluminum-foil lined bag is a common theft detection shielding device, Burke reported.

Shoplifters build a “booster bag” by lining a brand-name store shopping bag with as many as 30 layers of aluminum foil to block radio communication from security devices on clothing, according to the blog “Common Thief.”

Police are taking an inventory of the clothing to determine the stores where the items were stolen.

Rose has similar charges of retail theft and possessing instruments of theft pending in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court filed by West Mifflin police. She pleaded guilty this year to retail theft complaints filed by police in Ross, according to online records.

Preliminary hearings in the Westmoreland County case are scheduled for Aug. 24 before Albert.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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