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Woodbury woman barred from Target as part of criminal sentence

A Woodbury woman convicted of participating in a theft ring will be prohibited from entering Target stores for 10 years as part of a criminal sentence.

Kristi Jean Hambleton, 24, was sentenced Feb. 6 to 10 years on probation and about four months in jail following a felony theft conviction.

Hambleton was among several people tracked by authorities during two months in 2012, where $12,913 in merchandise was stolen from various Target stores around the metro, including a Woodbury location. According to a criminal complaint, the group was responsible for the theft of high-priced electronics and cellphones.

The complaint states Hambleton and other members of the group used stolen security keys that unlocked packaging meant to trip alarms at Target entryways. Hambleton told investigators the keys were stolen from the cash register areas at Walmart stores, which use the same security system.

Once removed from the secure packaging, the suspects would conceal the electronics inside lower-priced merchandise like coffee makers or fans – often requiring the suspects to remove parts from boxes to make room for the stolen merchandise, the complaint states.

The suspects would then purchase the less-expensive items and leave. The complaint describes an orchestrated system the group would sometimes employ that involved staging the concealed electronics in certain areas of the store that other members would later pick up and purchase.

The suspects would as a team, with one person either distracting workers or serving as look-outs while another would remove the security packaging.

Hambleton’s then- 1- and 5-year-old children accompanied her on many of the thefts, the complaint states.

Investigators learned mcuh of the stolen merchandise was sold through Craigslist.

According to the complaint, Hambleton was involved in 14 Target thefts, including six incidents at the store’s Woodbury locations.

A total of six people were charged in connection with the thefts. Police said Hambleton was responsible for stealing $5,040 in Target goods.

Hambleton’s sentence runs concurrently with an identical sentence on a drug charge.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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