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Religious Sister Charged with Shoplifting Coffee, Soap

BRIAR CREEK -- State police in Columbia County say they nabbed a very unlikely thief: a religious sister.

Troopers tracked the woman to her convent in Danville after she allegedly shoplifted from a store.

Workers at the Surplus Outlet near Berwick say she stole $23 worth of food and toiletries from the business. They say the crime was caught on the store's surveillance camera.

Zane Kishbach, a manager at Surplus Outlet pointed out what is believed to be a woman shoplifting from the store. The surveillance video was taken around 3:45 p.m. Monday.

"Another customer came to me in aisle 5 and said, 'I'm not sure what I'm seeing, but I think a woman is stealing,' and she had already left the store by that time and I went out to pursue her," Kishbach said.

Workers were able to get the license plate number from the car.

State police say that car is owned by the religious sisters at Saints Cyril and Methodius Convent in Danville.

But then came the biggest surprise. Troopers say the thief is a sister: Agnes Pennino, 78, who lives at the convent.

"I was shocked, to say the least. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it that a nun would actually do something like that," Kishback added.

Investigators and store employees believe Pennino planned to steal from the store. They say Pennino brought the store's red grocery bags in her purse to take the stolen items out of the store.

Store workers say the woman avoided leaving the store through the actual exit because she would have had to pass by all the cashiers who would have seen her leaving with groceries that hadn't been checked out.

Video shows her leaving by the front door. When someone coming triggers the automatic door open, she makes a run for it, taking $23 worth of snacks, coffee, soap, and shampoo with her.

"Waited for somebody to come in the door and when they came in the door she ran out," said Kishbach.

"Terrible. Humanity's gone to hell, to put it bluntly. It's not good anymore," said Wendy Everett of Berwick.

The convent declined to comment.

State police say they interviewed Pennino and say she is of sound mind.

She's charged with a summary offense. If she pleads guilty, she will only have to pay a fine.

119 comments

  • Gary

    She obviously was in need ! There needs to be donations made to this convent if where these buns reside ! They do a lot of good ! They probably don’t have much of anything !

    Regardless no one is with out sin and we all sin !

    • M_17

      Donations are given every Sunday..But when you protect pedophiles most of your donations end up going to settle lawsuits. Maybe the Pope should sell some of his jewelry

      • jayesouthworth

        So stealing them is the right thing to do? She could have stood outside the stores front door in her habit and asked for donations to purchase3 those items. That would have been far better than being embarrassed by being caught stealing. This is what’s wrong with our society, it’s the sense of entitlement that one does not deserve.

  • James McDonough

    There is such a thing as ‘the heart of the law’ which ironically, was explained to me many years ago….
    A little old lady is caught stealing a can of cat food tuna, arrested and brought before a judge.
    Th judge dismisses the case on humanity grounds, and the store says he had to follow the store’s policy of charging every shoplifter caught in the act.
    The store owner decides to rescind it’s policy and starts a fund for people such as she.
    The customers donate their loose change at the checkout.

  • frank ross

    “SURPLUS OUTLET” of COLUMBIA COUNTY, is the store to go and GET ARRESTED if you are a CATHOLIC NUN that has fallen on hard times! If you need further details Tune into channel “16 – WNEP” and ask that wanna be reporter, “PEGGY LEE” who did an expose’ of THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY. Channel 16 WNEP must be desperate for some juicy news that day? What’s a matter WNEP, running out of stories about DRUG DEALERS, BANK ROBBERS, MAJOR AUTO ACCIDENTS, FIRES, anything considered REAL NEWS. The “STATE TROOPERS” really need to find real crimes to solve, or are they really using “BOYS SCOUTS” and call them State Troopers?

    • jayesouthworth

      Why don’t you invite the nun over to your house and have her take whatever she wants. The “I didn’t do nuffins” from the hood get shot when they go into another persons home and takes what does not belong to them. A business is no different. How do we teach out children these days about honesty, truthfulness, and don’t take what anything that you did not earn or pay for.

      • Little Missy

        How about we teach people to help the elderly. No one knows the situation of the convent. Someone made a remark about her wearing her habit. Nuns have not worn habits for years. Its hard to even pick out a nun in a crowd. Maybe the convent thought those items were luxury items. Yes, she should not have stolen them but at the same time if you are older and see what people of age have to live on you may be a little more understanding.

  • chiliboots2000

    So you felt ‘honor-bound’ to expose this Woman who devoted her entire life to God and Humanity, over $24.00.
    What a pile of heroes all of you are. You disgust me.

    • M_17

      Yes, they should’ve helped cover it up…Because we all know that the Catholic church LOVES to cover up for their criminals. They can’t badger people into silence like they use to do little boys.

    • Tony

      “Thou shalt not steal.” No wonder I’m now a Protestant! Situation ethics seems fine to the Papists here.

  • keith hinkel

    Roy Kent & I agree-Dementia and 78–probably a good fit. If this were a “regular” lady of 78 nothing said. Sad state when anyone of our Seniors have to thieve anything when Welfare, Green Carders, free foreign aide, illegal aliens get $$$ free and folks worked and paid for these other freeloaders get the shaft! This lady a Nun or no–allow her to repay the $23.00 and be done w/it. Have this Nun tested for Alzheimers. Hell how many landlords are getting “stiffed” monthly for lost rents that the courts allow renters to run away and wreck property not repay rent!! Really upside down America.

    • Dave

      Really not worth sharing on the site. But I don’t agree with the dementia defense.. She strategically avoided being caught.. Did she do it because she really couldn’t afford? Probably so.. And for that she shouldn’t be harassed or publicly embarrassed.. But that dementia thing doesn’t add up in this situation..

      • jayesouthworth

        You’re right about the dementia part. She had it all calculated out even down to the red bags so she couldn’t get caught. She made a mad dash for the door when a customer came in. Nope, she went there to intentionally steal. The Catholic Church has been stealing for hundreds and hundreds of years, they taught her well.

      • Curly Bill

        You obviously know nothing about dementia. But don’t let that stop you. In the early stages one is not mentally debilitated to the point they cannot function. But the victim’s reasoning powers can be affected such that an action or conduct that would normally have been uncharacteristic or even abhorrent to the person is now considered appropriate or even preferred. Thus, the fact that she “strategically avoided being caught” or “went there to intentionally steal” (that one’s for you Jaye) has no bearing on whether the entire episode was triggered by the early stages of dementia.

  • frank ross

    Oh no, what a huge story, A nun stealing needed supplies. If the poor woman wasn’t a nun these BULLIES would have ignored an “AN OLD LADY STEALING GROCERIES”. This chump employee feeling proud about the story that he’s recounting needs to get a life, and the SUPERMAN like State Troopers who are so proud of themselves for cracking such a huge story about this dangerous terrorist like, old lady. I only wonder if this store clerk and State Troopers went home that night and told their wives and children about the MAJOR crime that they cracked.

    Everyday you can read about people and cops buying homeless people food or shoes, but by all means, GET THAT DANGEROUS 78 year old MASTER CRIMINAL off the streets of this local yoko little petty city.

    The bottom line here is, IF SHE WASN’T A CATHOLIC, we would have let it go!
    Maybe the community should get together and find out if these ELDERLY NUNS NEED HELP, maybe they all are hungry!

    • Trilobite

      Isn’t it that damn church responsibility to follow elder nuns life and means to live is enough? Or that is beyond than church “doctrine”?

      • frank ross

        Your comment sounds like an illiterate child wrote it. **EXACTLY what are you TRYING to say “Isn’t it THAT damn church responsible” WHAT CHURCH, there about 5 million churches in America? You are an embarrassment to mankind! What is an “ELDER NUN” is anything like a “ELDERLY NUN”?

      • Trilobite

        I couldn’t care less what church. You who claim to be Christians are shirking your responsibility. That’s what I meant.

      • Norman

        Every human being, to some degree, is either a hypocrite, self righteous, or both. If you’re implying that only religious, or Christendom, can be hypocritical, then you’re both.

    • Tim Johnson

      The Catholic church should fund their convents. They have the money but would rather not spend it. The grocery business operates on a razor-thin margin and any theft causes problems. Do not blame the victim here. She planned and pulled off her shoplifting ruse and might have continued to do it week after week if they wouldn’t have stopped it. The business is not the one to say her punishment, perhaps the court will be lenient and maybe they should be if it is her first offense but to ignore it is wrong.

    • Dufus Killah

      Well maybe if you christians are too busy trying to talk with your imaginary friend then a secular group could provide the aid these old women need. It appears obvious that the people of their own faith have failed them and continue to fail them by making excuses for them.

      • Trilobite

        You absolutely right, Dufus. Those “religious” people are just simply hypocrites. That’s all.

    • Trilobite

      “State police say they interviewed Pennino and say she is of sound mind.”

      Was that clear for you?

      • keith hinkel

        Since when is any Statie a medical expert?? You damn fool. Have this Nun tested for Alzheimers. 78 and a Nun and thieving!?? No I think demented. Or and elder theft not just Catholics.

      • Trilobite

        Can you comprehend that police has a medical examiner and other medics? You are a yuuuuge fool as The Donald would say.

  • Doreen Conway Finley

    First of all to those saying we don’t know her mental state – please pay attention to the report – the police talked to the woman and stated she is in “sound” mind. Secondly I guess she was just tired of all the sick twisted pedophille priests getting all the attention and wanted to share the lime light

  • smyers

    Always keep in mind; news reporting today is less about reporting important stories and more about reporting stories that are weird or will piss people off to get them talking. Important news isn’t what the news / entertainment enterprises are interested in because that takes much more effort and isn’t as noticed by the public. The news media is more of a sideshow freak show today.

  • Ellen

    Horrible. I cannot believe you would post a story like this. Do you think this is funny? This woman dedicated her life to service and helping others and at 78 years old she shop lifts $20 bucks worth of stuff. At 78 years old you have no idea of her mental state and then to publicly smear and embarrass her like this. You never see shoplifting stories on the news – but this one – oh its funny to smear a nun. Low…very Low.

    • Joe

      Ellen, theft is theft. Theft is crime. I want to check the mental status of you, to be quite honest. Age should not have an effect on how you perceive a story, maybe this is just the first time someone caught her and this was not her first rodeo at illegal activity. Just because a ‘nun’ is placed beside her name surely brought the attention to the news. I hope you are one of those people who also say Ray Rice got publicity because he is an NFL player only because domestic abuse happens every day just like people stealing. Or just when a police officer makes a mistake, he/she are only in the news due to their posistion – not everyone becomes news for far worse things. Your point is void.

      • Norman

        Actually, why did Ray Rice get publicity then?… The reason I ask is because not every physical abuse story makes the news, especially in predominantly black neighborhood; they’re often ignored which is tragic.

    • Tim Johnson

      This is clearly a man-bites-dog story. They always are interesting to readers and always have been. It is the irony/unusual aspects of the story that make it newsworthy.

      • Trilobite

        You church deceived that elderly woman when she was young to waste her life on BS “testament” stories. Now, you “believers are shirking you responsibility to support that woman as allegedly that church taught each of you to do. What “religious” bastards you truly are.

    • In Bullshit We Trust

      Nun stealing crap… No problem… Police officer paying for gas with company card…. BURN HER!

      Welcome to Pennsylvania..

    • Tony

      We have a lot of thefts at our antique/thrift store booths. I work hard, make little, and you okay theft? “Thou shalt not steal”. No ifs, ands, or buts.

  • Curly Bill

    The nun is nearly 80. Anyone who has dealt with someone in the early stages of senile dementia or Alzheimer’s knows that personality reversals and actions completely out of character with the person’s previously normal behavior are not uncommon. They are, sadly, a symptom of the disease.

  • Amazed

    Unless every shoplifting incident is reported, this sad story was highlighted to embarrass this convent in particular and the Church in general. Makes me question the news story management at this station. May be time for some job reassignment. Very unfortunate choices.

    • Liz

      Well, I’m catholic and this story disturbs me greatly. first of all, thanks to Vatican II nuns don’t even wear habits anymore. She would never have gotten away with that had she been in a religious habit. Secondly, the woman is supposed to set an example for the community, and this lady very carefully plotted and planned out her crime. A person with dementia wouldn’t behave that way. She knew what she was doing She should be retired from her order, be forced to do some sort of community service, church related, and the convent needs to step up to the plate and make a public apology to the store and the community,

      • Monica

        Liz- you are greatly disturbed over $23.00? And, oh! the horrors that some orders of nuns no longer wear full habits! They are NOT letting her get away with it, she will be facing a fine. She has spent her life doing good for other people and she made an error in judgement. Can you say the same about yourself? You act as judge and jury, how much good have you done for others? How perfect are you that you can throw the first stone?

  • Jason Daniels

    Shame on you wnep for posting this, seriously! A Nun shoplifted $23!?!?! How is this news? Shame, shame, shame on you Peggy Lee for writing this trash piece, and Shame on wnep for posting it!!!!

      • Jason Daniels

        Unless wnep now runs stories about Every single low dollar amount shoplifting case in the region then this is just singling out an elderly nun for no reason other than shaming the poor woman. How about sticking to real news? Real news this was not!

  • Rob Giordano

    This station is just low, no more for me. That a shoplifting Nun is a “Top Story”, you dirtbags should be ashamed of yourselves. It isn’t the Nun who held herself up to a higher standard, but you, WNEP. Don’t you have any reporters?

  • md

    $23 and a nun…………23 friggin dollors………..if she was a crack head nothing wouldve been said cause awww come on those poor lil ba****d need to eat too………..

  • mmoser

    Why would anyone think a nun wouldn’t be capable of stealing? They are as human as anyone else. They have free will and make bad decisions. I think they probably get away w/ more than we think because no one is suspicious of them. We hope for better from them due to their station in life, but they are simply human.

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