Walgreens thief who faked a COVID-19 diagnosis and coughed on staff faces up to 20 years in prison

walgreens
The crime occurred at a San Francisco branch of Walgreens.

  • A woman convicted of theft while pretending to have COVID faces a long prison sentence.
  • Carmelita Barela stole from a San Francisco Walgreens while coughing on staff, SFGate reported.
  • She reportedly told staff she had the virus and then fled the store with products worth $90.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A woman is facing a long prison sentence after being convicted of stealing multiple products from a Walgreens store while pretending to be sick with COVID-19 and coughing on staff.

According to the Department of Justice, Carmelita Barela, 36, and an unnamed accomplice walked into a branch near San Francisco’s Civic Center and coughed over staff as the pair stuffed products into their bags.

Barela’s accomplice had been told by staff to leave if she was sick. Instead, the two began to cough even louder, grabbing goods and stuffing them into their bags, the DOJ said in a press release. Once they were ordered to leave, they told the manager that they had COVID-19, the release said.

Barela continued to cough and left the store without paying for the merchandise in her bag, according to the press release.

The manager and a security guard on duty were reluctant to approach the women, who reportedly fled with $90 worth of items, reported SFGate.

In the press release, acting US attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, said: “The spread of COVID-19 has forced almost all of us to make sacrifices and to rely on each other to maintain our safety and good health. Unfortunately, some people have tried to use the crisis to intimidate essential workers and to commit crimes.”

She added: “This conviction demonstrates that those who seek to exploit the pandemic and commit crimes for their own personal gain will be held accountable.”

Barela was convicted on Thursday of robbery affecting interstate commerce (Hobbs Act Robbery), in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 1951. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of prison and a $250,000 fine.

Any sentence would be imposed by the court after consideration of the US sentencing guidelines, however, according to the press release.

Back in June, a man who allegedly appeared in a viral video showing him clearing shelves at a San Francisco Walgreens was detained by police. The suspect allegedly tried to steal from a different store a few blocks away.

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