‘Intense thievery’ lands woman probation for a year

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Kimberly A. Gardner

An Arizona woman who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3,000 worth of clothing and shoes from four downtown Aspen stores in the fall apologized for her actions Monday and will spend the next year on probation.

“I take full ownership for what I did here in Aspen,” Kimberly Ann Gardner said Monday in District Court. “I really apologize to the town of Aspen. That’s not who I am.”

Gardner, in her late 20s, initially agreed to a plea deal in January that would have wiped the felony theft charge from her record if she had successfully completed two years of probation. However, Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan yanked that deal in March after learning that Gardner had been arrested twice for theft on the same day in Southern California, less than three months after the Aspen incident.

Gardner had no criminal history before the Aspen incidents.

On Monday, Gardner said that while the California cases, which occurred at REI sporting goods stores in Arcadia and Manhattan Beach, have not yet been dealt with, she was not a part of those incidents.

The Aspen incidents occurred in late September after an employee at Ute Mountaineer, a sporting goods store on South Galena Street, called police to report that a woman had stolen two pairs of shoes. Gardner was identified from video surveillance as a suspect.

Another officer later found Gardner washing her hands at a public bathroom near Wagner Park and arrested her. After Gardner allowed police to search her purse, they found several items of clothing, some with price tags still attached, including four T-shirts from the T-Shirt Co. on Hyman Avenue, two pairs of leggings from The Sports Center on East Cooper Avenue and three price tags for other clothing.

Police later searched her car and found 14 other items stolen from Aspen Sports on East Cooper Avenue and from Ute Mountaineer, including the two pairs of shoes.

Attorney Mark Rubinstein told District Judge Gail Nichols that Gardner’s ex-husband influenced her behavior, though “there is no excuse for what she did.”

Nichols said she appreciated Gardner’s sincere apology, but characterized her behavior as “intense thievery” and found it hard to believe the Aspen incident was the first time she’d ever stolen anything.

“We all do stupid things, but yours was just very extreme,” Nichols said.

Gardner, a physical therapist, will serve her probation in Arizona. She also will have to write a letter of apology to the stores she stole from and perform community service. She has already paid restitution to the stores, Rubinstein said.

Other charges filed against her were dismissed.