TOMS RIVER, N.J. - A woman working as a live-in home health aide was arrested after police responded to a shoplifting call and discovered she had random jewelry, including New York Police Department rings, wrapped up in her purse.
Toms River Police are hoping to track down the owners of 57 pieces of jewelry believed stolen by the woman, 33 year-old Joyce Ababio of Ghana, Africa.
Though Ababio was using a Bronx address, she was using multiple aliases and working as a home health aide in Whiting, said Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy.
Mastronardy said the health agency that employs the woman is cooperating with police, and investigators are hoping to track down additional owners of the stolen jewelry.
“We responded to a shoplifting call at Kohl’s, from security officers, on a call that she had shoplifted clothes and jewelry,” Mastronardy told Patch Wednesday.
Toms River Police Officer Frank Lauria responded to the call at 7 p.m. Monday, and found loss prevention staff had detained the woman, who had no form of identification on her.
However, her purse was allegedly full of jewelry wrapped in paper towels, said the police chief.
Police began sorting through the items and found a NYPD and a Xavier High School rings that she claims all belonged to a relative in Africa, Mastronardy said.
The NYPD ring had a badge number, and Det. Brian Lomer tracked down the owner after calling the NYPD, Mastronardy said.
“It had the badge number engraved on it, (and) we tracked it down to a retired police officer, who retired in 1970,” Mastronardy said
The retiree is now a Whiting resident and is one of the clients Ababio was working for, he said.
Det. Lomer is working to track down the owners of the other pieces of jewelry.
Mastronardy said the investigation found that Ababio was using multiple aliases, and had identification under numerous names: Akosua Oforiwaa, Faustina Abebio and Joyce Abebio are among the known aliases.
Officer Lauria and Det. Lomer discovered she has been in the area since April working as a health care worker for the elderly.
ICE was contacted and she is being held on no bail in the Ocean County jail. Police are encouraging anyone with information to contact Det. Lomer at 732-349-0150 ext. 1217.
Mastronardy urged residents who have home health care aides to “take necessary precautions and secure your valuables.”
“It’s something we recommend, in any case, but also for those who may require help at home, to keep valuables properly locked up and accounted for,” Mastronardy said.