Richland Township police are warning residents not to purchase gift cards being sold by individuals after officers found a large number of stolen cards while investigating another crime.

Township police Detective Kevin Gaudlip said that, while investigating the theft of a diamond ring at a Richland business last week, police discovered the stolen gift cards in the possession of a suspect and his girlfriend.

The gift-card investigation is continuing.

Gift cards are worthless unless they have been activated at the retailer upon purchase.

Therefore, anyone buying a stolen card from someone who perhaps may be selling them door-to-door at bargain prices could become a victim of a crime, he said.

Stealing gift cards is a new criminal twist, Gaudlip said.

Last week, Mom’s House Inc. of Johnstown warned the public about a scam in which someone was selling worthless gift cards door-to-door supposedly to benefit the organization.

Mom’s House said the thieves, who apparently stole the cards, were telling residents that, if they bought a $25 card, they would receive a $10 card for free.

Mom’s House said it never solicits donations in that manner.

In the diamond ring theft, Wade P. Ross, 31, of the 300 block of Ogden Avenue, Clearfield, is accused of reaching around a display case at Wisteria Lane in the East Hills Shopping Plaza on Dec. 20 and taking a ring valued at $1,500, Gaudlip said.

A surveillance camera captured Ross in the act of taking the ring, which was a giveaway for a Valentine’s Day prize, police said.

Ross was apprehended a short time later, police said. The ring was recovered at that time, and the gift cards were discovered during the arrest.

Ross’ girlfriend was with him but not charged with theft of the ring.

Ross was lodged in the Cambria County Prison on a bench warrant in another case.

In another matter, around 8 p.m. Christmas Eve, Richland police responded to a burglar alarm at the East Hills Family Pharmacy, 1111 Scalp Ave.

Gaudlip said a responding officer found Dennis Barkley, 39, of the 100 block of Gerber Street in Daisytown, sitting in a van at the rear of the drugstore.

An alarm sensor in the attic of the business sounded and, when police looked on the roof, they found burglary tools.

Surveillance footage revealed that Barkley was the person who attempted to break in, Gaudlip said.

Barkley was charged with criminal attempt to commit burglary, criminal trespass and possession of instruments of crime. He was arraigned before District Judge Max Pavlovich of Richland and lodged in the county jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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