Police had been searching for suspects after a spree of daytime thefts from parking lots last week.
Over the past several weeks, more than $5,000 worth of items were stolen from more than a dozen vehicles parked at the Powell Aquatic Center, Powell High School, Northwest College and Lovell High School, said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt in a news release. An estimate was still being compiled on Monday, he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear as to how many of the thefts Viarengo is alleged to have been involved with. She is specifically charged with just two, though charging documents indicate that items from other vehicles were also recovered in the search of her residence.
Viarengo became a suspect due to some off-duty work by a Powell police officer.
Because of the rash of thefts, Officer Jason Pellegrino decided to drive by the college on Wednesday while in his own vehicle, Eckerdt said.
While approaching the Johnson Fitness Center parking lot, Pellegrino saw someone in a beanie and dark-hooded sweatshirt looking into cars, says an affidavit from Officer Michael Hall used to support the burglary charges against Viarengo.
Pellegrino later saw the individual get out of a parked black car and quickly walk to a gray sedan before driving away, the affidavit says. Police later learned the sedan was a Pontiac owned by Viarengo’s roommate, the affidavit says. The owner of the black car, meanwhile, later reported that several items — including her student ID and three purses — had been stolen from the vehicle.
When police searched the trash at the East Adams Street house shared by Viarengo and her roommate on Thursday, they found a discarded wallet that had been stolen from a Northwest College student’s vehicle in November, Hall’s affidavit says.
In another development on Thursday, Lovell Police Officer Randy Davis told Powell police there had been several recent thefts from vehicles in the Lovell High School parking lot. That individual had also been in a beanie and dark hooded sweatshirt and driven a gray Pontiac, the affidavit says.
Viarengo had been seen on camera at Powell High School’s March 19 “Bingo for Books” event wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and black shoes with white laces, wrote Officer Hall — matching the outfit worn by the individual Pellegrino saw at NWC.
A subsequent police search of Viarengo’s home found the NWC student’s ID from the black car and an iPod that had been stolen from a locked vehicle at a college lot on Tuesday, Hall wrote, along with other apparently stolen items like a camera and Walmart gift card. Viarengo’s roommate was stopped in the gray sedan around 7 p.m., and was wearing sunglasses that matched the description of a pair taken from Lovell, the affidavit says.
In total, Eckerdt said two residences were searched, plus the vehicle and a self-storage unit. He said officers are identifying the items and contacting the owners.
Officers are also following up leads on possible accomplices, Eckerdt said.
The chief reminded residents to lock vehicles and leave their valuables at home or out of sight.
“Most auto burglaries are a crime of opportunity,” he said. “A thief will pick an unlocked car with valuables left in plain view over a locked car every time.”
Editor's note: This version corrects the day the officer saw an individual looking in cars at NWC.