Mother, Son & Daughter Arrested in Grocery Theft Scheme

A Southampton mother and her two adult children were arrested after allegedly stealing close to $5,000 worth of groceries from Giant.

Call it a sign of the times.

A financially destressed mother and her two adult children were charged with stealing about $5,000 worth of goods from the over the past several months, police said Thursday.

Darlene McDonald, 54, her daughter, Harlianne Blanchard, 35, and her son, Stephen Blanchard, 32, all of Willowpenn Drive in Upper Southampton, were arrested in late September and charged with several crimes after Giant’s loss prevention department notified township police of the thefts.

Detective Craig Rudisill said, the “merchandise pass-off” scheme worked like this: Darlene, who worked as a cashier at the Giant, would have her two children check-out in the line she was manning. Instead of scanning the products Darlene would place them directly into the bagging area, which meant her children would receive free merchandise.

Store security caught onto the scheme and police arrested the family in late September, but not before the trio took nearly $5,000 worth of “everyday” grocery items, Rudisill said.

An investigation revealed the three had stolen from the store, using the “merchandise pass-off” scheme, 16 times since June of this year.

Their motivation? Hard financial times, Rudisill told Patch.

According to a Food Marketing Institute study, three-quarters of grocery stores said theft-related loss increased in the months following the downturn of the economy.

In the study, a group of loss prevention executives said they believe the economic pressures are the reason behind the increase in food-realted thefts.

The study surmised that the increase in grocery thefts draws a “direct parallel to the rise in burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and car break-ins as reported by media outlets around the nation.”

When asked for comment about the Southampton Giant theft and grocery theft as a whole, Giant spokesman Chris Brand said, “To ensure the safety of our associates and customers, we do not disclose security procedures or policies.”

Darlene McDonald, Harlianne Blanchard, and Stephen Blanchard have all been charged with various related crimes, including retail theft, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

According to court documents, the trio, who share the same Willowpenn Drive address, are out of jail on $20,000 unsecured bail.

Eric S October 15, 2011 at 03:10 PM
It was unsecured. That means if they skip on the hearings/trial they owe the money. This is usually done when the court figures the defendant has no where else to go and no resouces to get there. I'm assuming the suspects were co-operative with the police and the judge took that into account. Since their not violent, pose no threat to anyone, have behaved for the police and county lock-up and have to means to flee letting them out on unsecured is in the long run a lot cheaper for the taxpayers.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Levy....you don't even remember what you wrote do you?
joey joe joe October 15, 2011 at 03:19 PM
It's right up there. You were being a jerk. and jerk is hardly name calling. and it isn't even the point. I wouldn't mind paying more if giant paid their employees more. That would be the American thing to do
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 03:20 PM
What we should all probably do in this situation is blame the poor. @TominPA - when you make bail, you basically take out a loan and when you show up at court, that money is refunded. @Ingrid - how are they going to afford the plane ticket? Stealing? Yeah, I guess it's stupid. But how many of you have ever, really, ever, been hungry? How many of you have gone 2 or 3 nights in a row without food? How many of you have supported three people on a minimum wage income? It's easy to say, "They should get a job!" but the reality is getting a job is hard. Especially now. Especially without a solid education or connections. No excuse for stealing? Maybe, maybe not. Do we really know how dire their situation was? Their background, their history?
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 03:22 PM
I'm not saying it was a smart move, just saying, you know... life is hard. And it's harder for some folks a lot more than it is for others.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Yeah, because hell...if I can't afford my living expenses I might as well take a vacation to Somalia. Maybe we can substitute Trenton for Somalia and be back in time for lunch! Ok, Ingrid....just so we're on the same page here, that was sarcasm. If one is poor, how would one afford a trip to somewhere poorer? Somehow I'm doubting Orbitz has deals on hotel rooms at the refugee camps.
joey joe joe October 15, 2011 at 03:32 PM
you're just trolling anyway
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Yep, we have no idea the circumstances inwhich these people are coping. But if I were a betting man I'm going with food stamps and lazy. If they were more honest folks they'd have looked into food banks before resorting to theft. According to the story it was $5000 since June. That comes out to $1250 a month in groceries for 3 people. Their eating pretty well. I doubt Romin noodles were on the menu but the shrimp were tasty.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Only trolling for you Brad, mostly cause you make it so easy. I would imagine if I tied a dollar to a string I could get you to run into a brick wall.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 04:13 PM
@Eric- that IS an awful lot of food...
joey joe joe October 15, 2011 at 04:17 PM
The troller got trolled. Good game, sir
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Um....ok. Now how about you dig a little deeper for us and find out if the adult kids in this mess have jobs, or a reason for not having jobs, and more information on just what was stolen ( high end stuff or just generic food items) and how much of the stolen property ended up in a flea market. I figure they passed off some of this stuff to others. I'd start with interviewing neighbors who, if promised anonaminity, might fess up to more of the story.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Tom, the sad truth though is that our poor people get poorer every day. And not much is really being done to reverse that trend. Soon we may not have the richest poor people in the world (and in reality, we already don't - just spend a few days in Switzerland or Norway... oh wait, they don't really have "poor" people there... hmm...) The "Haves" have been pillaging the "Have-nots" since the beginning of time. Typically, by preying on ignorance the haves have even been really good at rallying a large percentage of the have-nots to their causes (take the Tea Party for a contemporary example.) That's a lot of "haves" in one paragraph. Not really sure how the conversation got turned this way when it started as comments about grocery store theft - but I like it! Well done! Points for the best criminal charge I've come across - theft by unlawful taking. That may be the most redundant phrase ever uttered in a court of law. That being said, Occupy Second Street Pike! It's on.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 05:36 PM
It got turned this direction as we delved into the causes of such actions as theft. It's a natural progression as we contemplate the human condition and how we got this way. It's a very complex issue, some steal because their character is poor, others might steal because circumstances have left them no option. But then, what caused either of those situations? It just keeps getting deeper. As for Switzerland and Norway, since military service is mandatory and in Switzerland a battle rifle is by law kept in every home, the citizens have taken a greater stake in their own country. Couple that with much less lienancy towards crime in general and I think the answer becomes clear. They are less tolerant of crime and more invested in their national identity.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 05:44 PM
It sure helps when the majority of your people aren't completely disenfranchised.
ingrid October 15, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Anthony from what I have personally seen, many occupy protestors are college kids probably living off daddy's credit card not having a clue what a real work ethic is. While I understand people's frustration with our current administration and I certainly have voiced my dissatisaction, I can almost be certain that these protestors were Obama supporters and now look where that has gotten us. I do know if that is what a fancy college education produces, we are all in trouble.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 06:09 PM
I see this the same Ingrid. Most of them seem to have no clear idea what their protesting about, and are swallowing the party line that the rich need to pay more taxes. What is beyond their comprehension or knowledge is the fact that between 40/50% of people not only pay NO income taxes, they even get a refund. No contribution in, yet they get money back. And some wonder why the TEA party is upset. The Occupiers want to "redistibute the wealth". Um, yeah...socialism. I know I'm really going to be happy when I work my butt off so others can camp in the local park and expect to have services such as trash pick up and Port-a-Potties. What seems to be beyonf their intellectual grasp is the solution is quite simple. Boycott the worst of the banks/corporations. Drive one out of business as a signal to the others...we hold the power. It's ironic that as they protest the conglomerates they are using cellphones, computers, credit cards, debit cards and all manner of big business products. Then they get upset when local small businesses won't let them use the bathroom unless they make a purchase.
Tom Sofield October 15, 2011 at 06:13 PM
I am pretty sure there a is glitch with the Patch commenting system. While I appreciate the nice comment about my story, it wasn't written by me.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Let's get one thing pretty clear - this mess we're currently in is the product of decades of poor economic policy. This is not Obama's mess. If Obama did anything, it's stave off the complete economic collapse of the country. And Eric, do you remember how the Tea Party first started? Do you remember what their "original" grievance was (before they had some "huge problem" with higher taxation of the 1% - or, the "job creators")? That's right - they were opposed to the banks getting those huge bailouts. Look how quickly that cause gets perverted once someone with some money and an agenda goes to the front of the room. How do you guys propose we fix it? Boycott the banks? People already are - and not by choice. They don't have any money to put in the banks. People wonder why we're broke? How about 2+ unsanctioned quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars that the American people, a majority of the American people, want no part of. Did Obama start these wars? Did Obama give the tax breaks to the "job creators" that are currently leading to us having very minimal tax revenue? Granted, a lot of these protestors might be college kids with too much free time on their hands. But they're also the same college kids that are going to emerge into the real world with not many legitimate job prospects, saddled with thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Your correct, this wasn't casued by President Obama's policies. But his policies are going to make it much worse. As complex as economics might seem, in the end they are quite simple. You cannot borrow or print money and not expect a bill to become due. Putting it off just makes it worse. The TEA Party did indeed protest the bailouts. The Occupiers are not. They are protesting big business as the cause of our problems. They(business) are partly to blame. Congress is partly to blame. And we are partly to blame. We have allowed too many programs to go unchallenged. We have forgotten that WE are the government and WE ultimately hold the power. The Occupiers seem to forget that close to 50% of the population pay NO taxes. Yet they want the upper tiers to pay more. Equate it this way. You earn more than I do. I want some of your money till we're even. Give it to me.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 07:37 PM
They pay no taxes because they have no money. 1%. That's all I have to say. 1% control 40% of the country's wealth. If you're not outraged by that, then something isn't right. The average minimum wage is somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.50 The top 400 people alone have more money than the bottom 50%. We're in the age of the robber-baron again. Then again, fuel for the daily use of a private jet ain't cheap. In your own words, WE have forgotten that WE are the government. Then again, we're really not - are we? It's more like that 1%. I'm not sure these protests are going to amount to anything, but I think it's good to see people taking a stand, being noticed. Something has to change. The job creators are still not... creating any jobs - despite still being at the same tax rate they're crying poor about. History has shown us time and again that when all the money gets concentrated into a few hands... everything goes to hell.
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Well Anthony, you and I are at odds to a point on the cause, effect and solution to the problems we have. Which is fine, I would imagine in the end we're both right and wrong. It's a heady mix of everything that has gotten us to this dilemma. But I think we can both agree that these protests, whether they are for good cause or bad, whether they are cloaks for a more sinister enity, are causing people to discuss the overall issue that can't be denied. We are in serious trouble and the solution is going to be harsh. Just as Tea Partiers see a problem and are seeking a solution, so are the Occupiers. Myself, I don't see taxing the rich at higher precentages will be advantagous for the rest of us. With so many paying nothing the system is overall plainly unfair. This is why a flat tax makes sense. As you noted previously, we are disenfranchiced. Why? Because so few of us have an honest stake in the game. If everyone is paying a percentage into the pot we all have a much more vested interest in how that pot is spent. My word, we have gotten a far way from stolen groceries haven't we?
Eric S October 15, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Opps, one more thing here Anthony. You post with respect and intelligence. I may disagree with you, but it's all being done with civility. Thank you. As Americans we're allowed, even urged to disagree. It's how we do it that matters. You do it well.
Anthony Scoles October 15, 2011 at 08:19 PM
I agree, Eric. It's one of the few bright spots we have left. Let's hope we can hold on to it. But the biggest argument I think for raising taxes on the mega-wealthy is because that money can go into programs that will create jobs (rebuilding roads, bridges - revitalizing schools, etc.) Businesses don't hire more workers unless they absolutely have to. The biggest, I think, long-lasting effect of this recession, is that companies are learning how to do more with much less (the exponential development of technology isn't helping on that front either.) Hence, CEOs are cutting themselves much more impressive checks. I think if everyone was getting a piece of the pie, a lot of these people that aren't paying taxes because they can't afford it would be more than happy to fork over a chunk of their change.
Jennifer Mohan (Editor) October 18, 2011 at 07:11 PM
We encourage everyone to participate in the the conversation, but please keep your comments clean. Any posts containing offensive language will be removed from the site.
Eric S October 18, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Thanks Jennifer. The post that was deleted truely was over the line. Which is a shame. Had it been worded with less vulgarities it would have been a valid point of view.
Lisa October 20, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Giant needs to update its employee supervision standards apparently.
Lisa October 20, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Judith Gittelman October 21, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Why don't we stick to the point of the crime? Stealing is not right, no matter where or when. Especially from your employer! Thou shalt not steal...didn't we read that somewhere?
Eric S October 21, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Because for that we're way past the meat and potatoes of the event. We know there was a theft, and we know who has been charged with it. Sorry if your late to the game and have to catch up. But at present we're delving into the socio-economic, morality and root causes of such crime. Would you care to add to that part of the conversation. And yeah, I believe that quote is from the Q'ran. Or the some other such book. Though the truth be told, it's just decent human nature to not steal and many of us don't need quotes to tell us so.


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