Probation for woman who stole from shop

WAILUKU — A woman who said it was “a horrible mistake” when she stole merchandise from her employer and posted items for sale online has been ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

Sarah Hodgson, 34, of Wailuku also was placed on four years’ probation when she was sentenced Wednesday.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said the owner of Boutique Aloha had taken a chance on Hodgson, who had been working at the Paia store for eight days when she stole the items in June 2016 and posted them for sale on Craigslist and on her Facebook page.

“When you leave a trail of bread crumbs and you’re still holding the bread bag, it’s very easy to connect the dots,” Loo said. “It leads right back to you.”

Hodgson had pleaded no contest to second-degree theft.

“This is not a sophisticated crime in the sense she tried to cover it up,” said Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae. “She saw an opportunity.”

At the time, Hodgson didn’t have enough money to support her family, which includes her disabled husband and children, Raidmae said.

“It was a mistake, but it was definitely a learning experience,” Hodgson said in court. “It was one of the first times in my life where I couldn’t provide, where my parents had left.

“It was a terrible decision, a horrible mistake.”

She reported that her mother had been living on Maui and said she would help Hodgson, only to leave the island after Hodgson moved here.

Hodgson had just moved from South Carolina when she began working at the boutique and stole the merchandise valued at more than $700, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said the store owner was concerned that Hodgson had violated his trust.

“He did feel violated as a store owner,” Bernard Lee said.

She said most of the items weren’t recovered because Hodgson had sold them, but some items were found in her car.

“Immediately upon being confronted, she apologized and she recognized what she did was wrong,” Bernard Lee said.

Hodgson said she has another job and her new employers know about the theft case.

She asked for a chance to keep the conviction off her record.

Loo denied the request. “I am very concerned that this thievery happened so quickly after being employed,” Loo said. She said Hodgson apologized only after being caught.

Hodgson was ordered to pay $375 in restitution. She also was ordered to stay away from Boutique Aloha and to write a letter apologizing to its owner.