ST. THOMAS — A Texas tourist charged with stealing thousands of dollars of jewelry from Vibe Collection on St. John has returned some, but not all, of the missing pieces, Assistant V.I. Attorney General Brenda Scales said in court Monday.
Jennifer A. Northcutt, 54, of Richardson, Texas, was arrested Friday at King Airport and charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property.
Unable to post $20,000 bail, Northcutt was jailed pending her advice-of-rights hearing in V.I. Superior Court on Monday.
“The police were able to retrieve some of the jewelry, not all of it. Any assistance that the people could have in terms of locating that jewelry that’s missing, the people would take into consideration. But at this time, we’re asking that bail remain as set at $20,000,” Scales said at the hearing. “We’re talking about thousands in jewelry.”
Territorial Public Defender Julie Todman asked that Northcutt be allowed to sign an unsecured bond — meaning that she would not have to post cash in order to be released while she awaits trial — but Magistrate Judge Henry Carr III said he’s reluctant to allow Northcutt to return home until all of the missing jewelry has been accounted for.
“I’m not allowing her to return back to Richardson, Texas. Given the extent of the grand larceny here, given the quality of the evidence against her, and her having no ties to the community whatsoever,” Carr said.
Carr ordered that her bail amount remain as set, and said she may post the $20,000 in cash or property.
Todman asked that government provide a list of “what the victim alleges is still missing” to “compare with what was recovered.”
According to the affidavit filed by police, the owner of Vibe Collection reported to police Thursday that as the business was closing Wednesday evening, the manager noticed that some jewelry was missing.
The owner reviewed surveillance footage that showed “a Caucasian female picking up and removing several pieces of jewelry” and placing them inside a green plastic bag, before leaving the store without paying for the items, according to the affidavit. Police reviewed the footage and confirmed the owner’s account.
The owner posted still frames from the surveillance video on Facebook and asked if anyone could identify the woman. The owner told police that “she received a tip from another tourist” that the woman might be staying at Emerald Beach Hotel on St. Thomas, and police followed up, according to the affidavit.
The tourist told police that he had seen the woman in the photos, and the hotel manager provided investigators with a name.
Police learned that the woman was scheduled to check out of the hotel Friday morning, and placed a “BOLO” or “be on the lookout” alert for Northcutt with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents patrolling King Airport, who stopped her as she was about to board a plane.
Police informed her she was being arrested on grand larceny charges and “Ms. Northcutt verbally denied committing any larceny at which time her belongings were searched by CBP Officers,” who found “several pieces of jewelry that were reported stolen from said business.”
Northcutt waived her right to remain silent and gave a recorded statement in which she “admitted to committing said larceny and to being in possession of some of the stolen jewelry,” according to the affidavit. “The defendant also stated that she was sorry for her actions and appeared remorseful.”
Todman said Monday that Northcutt was on vacation with her adult children, who have returned to Texas, and she has an associate’s degree in nursing and has been working in health care for 29 years.
An article published in The Daily News on Monday incorrectly included information about drug and gun convictions for a different Texas woman named Jennifer Northcutt. Scales said during Monday’s court hearing that the Jennifer Northcutt charged with larceny Friday has no previous criminal history.