A 22-year-old woman arrested in Costa Mesa on suspicion of stealing more than $10,000 from major retail chains in a multi-state “short change” scheme remained behind bars Saturday as prosecutors weighed whether to file charges.

Target store. Photo via pressroom.target.com

Ashlie Pentard of Long Beach was booked on suspicion of felony commercial burglary, said Farrah Emami of the Irvine Police Department. Prosecutors were reviewing the case Friday and had not yet decided whether to file charges, according to Roxi Fyad of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Pentard was being held without bail after her Thursday arrest, according to jail records.

Investigators allege that since 2013, Pentard visited about 150 Target stores in California, Arizona and Utah, in each case making a small purchase with cash, Emami said. Pentard works as a nurse, according to Orange county jail records.

“When the cashier provided change, Pentard would quickly switch the large bills with smaller bills and insist the store had provided her with short change,” Emami said. “She then fraudulently collected the purported balance from the cashier and fled the scene.”

The scam, which Pentard allegedly ran in September and August at Target stores in Irvine, would typically yield about $100 per transaction, Emami said.

Irvine police began an investigation and identified Pentard as the suspect.

“Through the investigation it was determined that Pentard has committed similar crimes at Walmart, Home Depot and possible other retailers,” Emami said.

Pentard was arrested outside a Target store in Costa Mesa, where Irvine police detectives saw her allegedly commit another short-change theft, Emami said.

— City News Service

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