Alpharetta police arrested Edward Copenhaver, 45, Friday on felony theft charges. Police said Copenhaver and clerk Margaret Carlisle, 26, stole 50 Target gift cards that Kristi Bailey planned to send to relatives in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Its really sad that somebody would do that to someone in need,” Bailey told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “It hurts my heart.”
Bailey said she enlisted the youth ministry at Alpharetta’s Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church and several dozen families from Fidelis Christian School in Cumming where she teaches.
“They were excited,” she said about the kids who helped raise the money. “We prayed over them and talked about them, talked about helping people.”
After several weeks, Bailey said she took the cards to a UPS store on Old Alabama Road to ship them to her mother.
“I left there and jokingly said: ‘Ill have to trust you,'” she told Petchenik she said to the clerk, who assured her he’d box up the cards and have them shipped.
The next day, Bailey said her mother received a box of hand-written cards from the students, but no gift cards. She said she called the store, but was told there was nothing they could do. She said police told her they couldn’t do anything without proof.
I left in tears, but then remembered that I actually had a receipt for some of the cards and so I called Target and one of them had already been spent,” she said.
Based on information from Target’s loss prevention office, Alpharetta police were able to track down surveillance video they said shows Copenhaver and Carlisle spending the gift cards on personal items. Both are now facing felony theft charges.
“My family and I have been praying for them,” said Bailey.
A spokeswoman for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department told Petchenik that Copenhaver and Carlisle each posted a $5,000 bond Sunday and were out of jail awaiting their next court date. Petchenik attempted to reach them by phone for comment but was unsuccessful.
After Petchenik learned that Copenhaver owns and operates another UPS store location in Dalton, Ga., he contacted police there to see if they had any open cases. Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier confirmed that his department was investigating theft of money that a customer was shipping from Copenhaver’s store. But Frazier said Copenhaver had not been named as a suspect in that theft.
Brandon Olson, a spokesman for UPS Store’s corporate office, sent Petchenik a statement about the gift card thefts:
“Its certainly unfortunate to hear about such an occurrence, especially in the wake of the devastation weve witnessed in the southern states. As you know, all of our locations are individually owned and operated by licensed franchise owners. The actions of this one franchise owner and his employee by no means represent the other local owners in Atlanta nor The UPS Store brand.”
Local franchise owner David Grossman told Petchenik the company is asking each of its 150 owner/operators in Metro Atlanta to donate to a fund to replace the stolen gift cards. He said the corporate office also planned to match the donations.
“Its a very unfortunate thing that happened,” said Grossman. “We all regret that such a terrible act was done by one of our brothers in the business, but its not indicative of the kind of stores we run.”