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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Piercing Pagoda jewelry thief says it was an accident

Payton Elaine Alexander
Payton Elaine Alexander

A fired employee who admitted to stealing $2,000 worth of jewelry over a three-month period from Piercing Pagoda told police she accidentally took the items home after wearing them at work to show customers how they looked.

Payton Elaine Alexander, 25, of 20760 SE 156th St., turned herself in at the Leesburg Police Department on Thursday and was charged with grand theft of between $750 and $5,000. The thefts started last November and continued until February, when the store manager received an anonymous call saying Alexander had been stealing while she was working at the kiosk in the Lake Square Mall, located at 10401 U.S. Hwy. 441 in Leesburg.

Piercing Pagoda’s loss-prevention manager started an investigation that lasted almost a month. Inventory was taken of the jewelry cases and it was learned that about $2,000 worth of items were missing. The store manager said some of the missing jewelry matched what Alexander was seen wearing while she was working, according to the police report.

On March 4, the loss-prevention manager met with Alexander, who admitted to stealing the jewelry and provided a written statement. Alexander later brought all the stolen jewelry back to the store and turned it in. The store manager filed a sworn statement with police and requested that Alexander be prosecuted, the report said.

After investigating the thefts, an officer contacted Alexander on Thursday and told her she needed turn herself in at the Leesburg Police Department. After being read her Miranda warning, Alexander said she took the jewelry home by accident after wearing it during work hours to show customers how it looked. The total value of the jewelry was $1,966, according to the report.

Alexander was taken to the Lake County Jail, where she was released later in the day on $2,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in Lake County Court on June 20.

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