The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 29, 2012

Woman given shelter accused of theft during Sandy

LEVITTOWN — They hadn't seen each other since their high school graduation. Now, one wishes that they never reconnected after finding each other on Facebook.

After learning her former classmate was homeless, a Lower Southampton woman opened her home to Mercedes Dombkiewicz, 22, when the superstorm Sandy roared through the region last month.

Police say the New Jersey woman repaid her kindness by stealing more than $2,000.

Lower Southampton police have filed an arrest warrant for Dombkiewicz, charging her with 43 felony counts of access device crimes and 95 related misdemeanors, including multiple counts of identity theft, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Police say the former classmate let Dombkiewicz stay at her Renee Circle home from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, when Dombkiewicz left after an argument with her former classmate, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Ten days later, the victim said she opened her bank statement to find multiple fraudulent charges on her account. Bank records showed a total of 43 transactions between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6 on the victim's debit card, totaling more than $1,300, police said.

Most purchases occurred in Runnemede, the town of residence listed on Dombkiewicz's driver's license.

Police obtained surveillance footage of some of the transactions, which they say showed they were made by Dombkiewicz. The bank hadn't reimbursed the victim for the transactions as of Nov. 26, police said.

But police say the stealing didn't stop with the fraudulent bank transactions.

After Dombkiewicz left her home, the victim discovered a $200 white gold necklace and a $400 camera were missing. The camera was later recovered at a local pawn shop, police said, and an employee there identified Dombkiewicz as the one who had pawned it.

While searching pawn shops for the camera, police said they learned that Dombkiewicz also sold a gold bracelet that read "Mom" at a Philadelphia jewelry store for $100 on Nov. 1.

Police say the bracelet belonged to the victim's mother, who estimated its value at $500. It had been destroyed by the time the sale was discovered, police said.

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