Woman accused of serial shoplifting

March 5, 2008 4:47:05 PM PST
Police believe they've busted a serial shoplifter on Long Island. The arrest is coming as a complete shock to the woman's neighbors. But today police showed off thousands of dollars worth of merchandise they say the 63-year old woman had in her home. Long Island reporter Emily Smith is at Roosevelt Field Mall with the story.

Police say a sneaky 63-year-old woman fooled store clerks for at least a year, looking business-like and sweet while all the while stealing up to a hundred thousand dollars worth of merchandise from malls in Nassau and Suffolk County.

We were shown what looked more like a department store showroom than a police news conference: Tables full of glitzy Swarovski earrings and all kinds of costume jewelry; a thousand dollar St. John jacket in the midst of an assortment of other pricey business clothes, mostly all size four.

Cops say the woman who stole it also wears a four, and she's an unassuming 63-year-old named Phyliss Finnan. Finnan was released on bail following her arraignment and didn't want to talk today but neighbors did.

"I can't imagine this," one told us. "She does her lawn, keeps her property meticulous."

Another said lately Finnan, "hasn't been looking to good..maybe its stress," but called her a nice lady and neighbor.

This is Finnan's second arrest. Police first arrested her in January outside of Macys at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City for stealing a grand worth of clothing. Police won't give out details but say upon further investigation they handcuffed the mother of two at her Lake Grove home yesterday.

Inside they found more than $100,000 worth of stolen items layed out like a storeroom in her own walk in closet.

Cops say she also hit up clothing stores like Chicos and Talbots on a regular basis, getting away with it all for at least a year.

Police say because of the volume of goods stolen, Finnan could face years in jail.

She is a retired clerk for the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority.