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Three women accused of retail theft

Police say $438 in items stolen from Walmart with minor’s help

Three women face charges after they allegedly shoplifted, with the help of a minor, from the East Freedom Walmart.

Tonya Elizabeth Koch, 38, and Amanda Lewis, 39, both of Duncansville, and Ashley Runk, 33, of Altoona, allegedly stole $483 worth of merchandise on Feb. 18.

A Walmart employee called 911 to report the theft, describing two of the four assailants — one as a male juvenile in a red hooded sweatshirt and a mask and another as a female in a black hooded jacket.

A witness on scene told police the suspects fled in a Ford SUV-style vehicle and gave them the plate number.

The Walmart employee told police that the male in the red sweatshirt took a cart with $483 of merchandise out of the store and that a cart with more than $1,600 of merchandise was left in the store.

Another officer contacted police saying he had stopped the suspected vehicle on a traffic violation, with Koch and Lewis inside it, earlier that day.

The officer is familiar with Koch, Lewis, Runk and the male juvenile, according to a criminal complaint, which also states that Koch and Lewis have prior retail theft offenses.

Police compared video from the body cam footage of the traffic stop to surveillance footage from the Walmart and determined the thieves appeared to be the same people stopped earlier that day.

Runk and the juvenile were identified through online photos.

Surveillance footage from Walmart shows the women leaving empty handed, while the juvenile pushed the cart with the merchandise toward the exit.

The juvenile was confronted by a Walmart employee, and he fled with the cart. The accused loaded the stolen merchandise into the vehicle, operated by Lewis, and fled the scene on Dunnings Highway.

Koch was charged with a felony of conspiracy to commit retail theft, while the other two women face misdemeanors of conspiracy to commit retail theft. Lewis faces an additional misdemeanor charge of defiant trespass.

Koch was unable to post 10% of $15,000 bail and was remanded to the Blair County Prison.

Koch is scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Andrew L. Blattenberger for a preliminary hearing April 28, while Lewis and Runk will appear before Judge Blattenberger for their preliminary hearings May 19.

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