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Woman charged in shoplifting scheme, admits giving sister’s name after arrest

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WILLMAR — A 23-year-old Minneapolis woman made her first appearance on two felony theft charges for her role shoplifting cell phones from the local Wal-Mart Supercenter this summer.

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Latoya Desiree Rodgers also faces a gross misdemeanor charge for giving a false name to a police officer and for giving her sister’s name when she was subsequently questioned about the theft by Willmar police officers.

According to the complaint, Rodgers called the local police after her sister, Tynika Nicole White, 27, of Minneapolis, was arrested on a warrant and Rodgers allegedly confessed to giving White’s name and date of birth instead of her own during the June 19 incident.

Unconditional bail was set at $10,000 for Rodgers. Her next appearance is Dec. 24 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

White was one of four women charged in the theft case. The charges against her were dismissed on Oct. 5.

Antenese Scottesia Baker, 19, of Minneapolis, faces two felony theft charges. Her next hearing is Tuesday.

Teresa Marie Morrow, 21, of Willmar, faces two felonies for theft and a misdemeanor for receiving stolen property. Her next hearing is Monday.

An arrest warrant was issued for a fourth woman, Demetria Lynise Smith, 22, of Minneapolis.

According to the complaints against the women, Willmar police were called June 19 to the area of Best Buy, along First Street South, regarding the alleged shoplifting of cell phones by four women at Wal-Mart. A store loss prevention employee had followed the women to Target and then to the Best Buy parking lot.

When questioned by the officer about why they were in Willmar, the women all gave different answers, including that they were visiting a friend or were in town to return baby shower gifts. The officer saw plastic packaging in the car for cell phones and equipment. Baker, the owner of the car, allowed the officers to search the vehicle. The search revealed a Boost Mobile phone, instruction manual, cords and packaging.

Morrow was taken into custody, as there was a warrant for her arrest. A search of her purse revealed two new cell phones that matched the serial numbers of those taken from Wal-Mart.

Loss prevention officials at Wal-Mart told police the women appeared to be working together, by distracting employees or acting as a lookout while another woman took a phone, before theft alarms went off in the store. The women then fled from the store.

Surveillance video also showed the woman shoplifting gaming system merchandise.

According to the complaint against Rodgers, she called Willmar police on Oct. 1 and said her sister, White, had been arrested in Brooklyn Park on a warrant from Kandiyohi County. She then allegedly said she gave White’s information to the investigating officer because she had a warrant for her arrest and knew if she gave her real name, she would be arrested.

County jail officials confirmed that they had White in custody. White was interviewed and claimed she wasn’t involved in the incident, that her sister used her name and that she had attempted to tell Hennepin County officials that information when she was arrested, but that they would not investigate. Using the video surveillance footage from the store, White identified her sister and the three other women as those involved.

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Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373
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