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Police: Alleged Vera Bradley Purse Thief Cast a Wide Net

Authorities think Laura Anne Pochmara of Rochester may be implicated in Vera Bradley thefts Saline, Dexter and several other cities. She now faces felony charges or organized retail fraud.

Laura Anne Pochmara, 37, was arrested two months ago for allegedly stealing Vera Bradley merchandise in Milford. Now, authorities think she's linked to similar crimes in several other cities. (Photo: Milford Police Department)
Laura Anne Pochmara, 37, was arrested two months ago for allegedly stealing Vera Bradley merchandise in Milford. Now, authorities think she's linked to similar crimes in several other cities. (Photo: Milford Police Department)

The arrest of a Rochester woman in Milford two months ago for the alleged theft of thousands of dollars in Vera Bradley designer purses is helping authorities in several other southeast Michigan cities wrap up similar crimes that date back more than two years.

Authorities allege Laura Anne Pochmara, 37, would sell the purses on craigslist.com or eBay, return them to retail stores for cash or store credit, or sell them at discounted prices to friends and aquaintences, the Oakland Press reports.  

When police arrested her at her Rochester home after the initial Jan. 30 incident , they found more than $6,000 in Vera Bradley merchandise.

Pochmara, 37, already faces charges of receiving and concealing stolen property over $1,000 tied to a recent theft of around $2,200 in Vera Bradley purses from the Nana’s Niche and Corner store in Milford.

Saline police should could be responsible for a 2012 shoplifting case at Pineapple House boutique, where $400 worth of  Vera Bradley umbrellas, handbags and a cosmetic cases were stolen, The Saline Reporter said.

After Pochmara’s arrest by Milford police, Det. Scott Taraiewicz tried to find related cases in a Google search. That’s when he found a link to the Saline newspaper’s story about the Pineapple House thefts, along with surveillance photos of a suspect who looked like Pochmara.

Milford police are working with investigators in South Lyon, Davison, Dexter and Kalamazoo where Vera Bradley merchandise was also stolen and have charged her with organized retail fraud, a five-year felony. Shoplifting was a misdemeanor until the Legislature stiffened penalties last year to give police more latitude when dealing with sophisticated criminal operations involved in stealing and reselling items.

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