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Alleged gold nugget theft attempt leads to arrest

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Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 1:01 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — A 21-year-old Fairbanks woman who tried to walk out of a local jewelry store with two gold nuggets worth almost $3,000 has been charged with felony concealment of merchandise.

Jovanna C. Westby was detained by store employees at Gold Rush Fine Jewelry as she attempted to walk out of the store with two gold nuggets on Monday afternoon.

According to Fairbanks police, Westby entered the jewelry store on Second Avenue a little after noon and began examining a tray of gold nuggets.

“She asked to see one and then asked to see another one and picked it up without putting the first one back,” Lt. Matt Soden said.

When a store employee asked her to put the first nugget back, Westby denied having it and started walking toward the door, Soden said. Store employees detained Westby before she got out of the store, then called police. The two nuggets were valued at $2,825.

Westby was charged with concealment of merchandise rather than theft because she did not actually leave the store with the gold nuggets, Soden said.

Store employees told police they had seen Westby in the store before and they suspected her of stealing merchandise but couldn’t prove it.

Westby was arrainged in court on Tuesday and is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Westby was convicted of felony theft a year ago this month after pleading guilty to stealing $12,790 in jewelry from a friend’s mother during a barbecue in July 2011.

In that case, the victim told troopers she kept her jewelry in the bathroom and noticed a diamond ring and bracelet were stolen on July 2. On the day the jewelry disappeared, she had been out, but her son had a barbecue with three guests, one of whom was Westby, who told troopers she took the jewelry and gave it to someone named Bobby.

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