Judge Maintains Felony Charges in Series of Home Depot Shoplifting Crimes

By Veronica Miller and Rena Abdusalam

WOODLAND, CA – A preliminary hearing was held here in Yolo County Superior Court this week for a duo that allegedly stole about $5,000 of merchandise from four Home Depots across Northern California.

Combined, the two were charged multiple times with second-degree robbery, organized retail theft, burglary, grand theft, conspiracy to commit a felony and misdemeanor shoplifting.

The judge upheld the charges at the end of the preliminary hearing.

The first witness to be called to stand in the prelim was Norma Vidales, a community service officer dispatched to the Home Depot location in Woodland Jan. 10, 2022.

Vidales said she learned from the manager at the Woodland location that a male adult had entered the store, then ran out with stolen property. The man had apparently stolen two dual power drill sets, a Milwaukee drill set, and a Makita drill set, a loss of $616. No one was with him during the theft.

Deputy Public Defender David Nelson decided not to cross-examine the officer, causing some apparent confusion to his client.

“I did not question the community service officer for a very good reason, so I will talk to you about that later,” replied PD Nelson, when one of the accused asked why not.  The accused only responded with a shake of his head.

Next, Officer Francisco Lopez testified he was informed by the protection agent employed by the store that two gentlemen walked in that day and exited without paying for Milwaukee tool sets at around 5:12 p.m.

Shown through the surveillance camera, the two got into a black Chevrolet pickup. The store lost about $876, the officer was told.

Officer Lopez was asked if there was a woman involved, to which he replied with, “No.”

On Jan. 26, 2022, the officer received an email from Mark Gojkovich, a detective with the Woodland Police Department. Attached to the email were photos of the suspected vehicle and tools that had tags from Home Depot. Prior to the email, he did know who the suspects were.

On Jan. 18, 2022, an arrest was reported an at a nearby casino, for a felony probation violation warrant, and Gojkovich received photos of a black Chevrolet pickup. The vehicle contained Home Depot property, a black bomber jacket and a baseball cap.

Gojkovich spoke with the Home Depot manager at Woodland, but found out that they were not the items stolen.

Alerted by a citizen, Gojkovich found a Facebook Yard Sale post of Home Depot items.

Deputy District Attorney David Wilson asked the officer to identify one of the accused in court. Then he asked to identify her in pictures that included the other accused in them, which were found on her Facebook.

After the identification, DDA Wilson showed surveillance camera footage of a Home Depot in Citrus Heights. On Jan. 17, 2022, the accused and an unidentified suspect were shown allegedly shoplifting merchandise, leaving in a getaway car that hit another during the escape.

Gojkovich confirmed that the tools found in the arrest were the tools stolen from that Home Depot. The total lost was about $1,000.

DDA Wilson showed another attack at the Woodland Home Depot location through surveillance camera footage on Jan. 6, 2022, four days before the Jan. 10 incident. Two individuals tried to run through the exit with two carts full of items without paying. One made it through, while the other pushed the workers aggressively with the cart.

One 0f the accused’s wallet was found on the floor of the parking lot after the attack.

Before Gojkovich left the stand, he stated that he definitely thinks one of the accused committed all four of the shoplifting incidents.

During the preliminary argument, PD Rob Gorman proclaimed one of the accused is not a co-conspirator in the Yolo County incidents and there’s no evidence for her knowing what was going to happen.

Gorman, a former prosecutor in Yolo County, argued there was no evidence that she was involved during the Citrus Heights incident. “It could’ve been she saw her husband coming to the car, so she started the car up and left,” said PD Gorman.

“For the conduct in leaving the parking lot, a reasonable jury could conclude that she was knowledgeable about what was going down,” said Judge Dave Rosenberg.

Still, PD Gorman asked if her felonies could be marked down to misdemeanors.

DDA Wilson noted she has previous charges, similar to the current ones, but PD Gorman noted she completed the district attorney justice program successfully.

DDA Wilson quipped, “Well then, I would add she didn’t learn much then because here we are again.”

Judge Rosenberg ruled the accused would still be charged with felonies. The next hearing will be Aug. 18.

About The Author

Veronica is a senior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science Public Service. She is passionate about advocating for women's rights and plans on attending law school where she can continue to advocate.

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