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Woman accused of stealing from a Milton church

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Stacy Vogel
October 29, 2007
— Milton police say they caught a burglar purple-handed Saturday.

The department arrested Susan Mehlert, 43, of 9136 Raven Drive, Milton, on two counts of burglary and two counts of theft after an investigation at Hope Lutheran Church.


Officers believe Mehlert, a former member of the church council, stole money from the church by entering the church office with a key she wasn’t supposed to have and taking donations from Thursday services, Sgt. James Schumacher told WCLO Radio.


Church officials became suspicious after members said donations they made on Thursdays weren’t showing up in their quarterly statements. One church member, who is also a Janesville police officer, called Milton Police, Schumacher said.


The department set up a camera to catch the suspect in action and installed a silent, motion-sensor alarm that would call the department when the suspect entered the office.


They also put “thief-powder” on a money bag that would turn someone’s hands purple when he or she touched it.


On Saturday, the department caught Mehlert in the office. Despite the video evidence and her purple hands, Mehlert originally denied taking the money, Schumacher said.


Eventually, she confessed to taking $10, but close to $100 was missing from the bag, he said.


Officers believe Mehlert has been breaking into the office on Fridays or Saturdays to take the donations since late June, but so far they can only prove two thefts they have on camera, Schumacher said.


“All we can do at this point is show a pattern that after Thursday services, members were missing donations,” he said.



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