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A West Side woman is accused of taking money from a collection jar for recent fire victims.

New Castle police charged Lawanda Denise Harper, 43, of Halco Drive, in connection with the theft that reportedly occurred around 12:45 a.m. on Jan. 18. It was reported to police the next day by a clerk at the 7-Eleven convenience store on Highland Avenue, who noticed the money missing and watched the reported theft on a store surveillance video, according to a criminal complaint.

The clerk told police the jar had been set up to benefit victims of a fire that occurred Jan. 9 at 607 Spruce St. The clerk told police she is certain the jar, which has a slotted lid on top and a door on the side, contained a $100 bill and two $20 bills.

She said she observed on video surveillance as Harper, while buying items in the store, took the money out and put it into her coat. She then paid for her items for purchase with a $100 bill, the clerk told the police.

Harper is charged with theft and receiving stolen property. She was sent a summons to appear in court on the charges.

Suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty or adjudicated in court.


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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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