WATERVILLE — Police on Thursday charged a Pittsfield couple in connection with theft of a purse containing $850 and other valuables that was accidentally left on a shelf at Walmart earlier this month.

Heather Folsom, 23, and Brandon Brasher, 24, were summoned after an investigation that was aided by an anonymous tip, according to Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey.

Police had asked for the public’s help and posted Walmart surveillance photos of the couple on its Facebook page. The photos were also published in the Morning Sentinel.

An anonymous caller identified the pair and Officer Dennis Picard interviewed Folsom and Brasher at the police station early Thursday afternoon, Rumsey said.

Folsom and Brasher are each charged with one count of felony theft, a class C crime punishable by up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail, he said.

The purse and its contents have not been recovered. The theft charge was elevated to a felony because the stolen items’ value was more than $1,000.

Folsom and Brasher are scheduled to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on Jan. 29.

The surveillance photos were provided by Walmart loss prevention officials, Rumsey said, who pieced together surveillance video from the store that showed a woman on Nov. 6 taking the purse off the shelf, walking to meet a man in the store and then leaving and getting into a car. The man, who was with a child, bought groceries with an electronic benefit transfer card, left the store, got into the car with the woman and drove off.

The girl shown with Brasher in the surveillance video is the couple’s daughter, Rumsey said. Neither has a criminal record.

Rumsey said he does not think a lot of people planning to steal stop to think about the advanced monitoring technology stores now use.

Even though the card used by the couple to buy food on Maine’s Food Supplement Program, formerly the food stamp program, could have been traced, publicizing the photos was much faster, he said.

Tracing the purchase would have taken several days and included writing an affidavit and having it reviewed by a district attorney and judge as well as issuing a subpoena and sending it to the state. Publicizing the photos was more efficient and netted results in less than 24 hours, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
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