ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – An unusual case was recently solved in part by store employees who initially wanted to help the alleged thief.
The case involved two ULTA beauty stores in St. Louis County. Newly filed court records reveal a stunning discovery tied to thousands of dollars in reported thefts, all because store employees helped a customer with a bloody toe.
Court documents state that ULTA employees at the Gravois Bluffs location offered her a band-aid and tissue before she went on to reportedly steal around $1,000 in products there. Then, another nearly $8,000 in products was reported stolen from the ULTA beauty on Olive and Ross in West County.
That was three years ago, but DNA on that bloody tissue just came back to a Texas woman with a retail theft criminal history.
Shopper Kasey Washausen commented, “Of course they helped her, that’s their job to be great with the customers. But also how smart of them to be quick enough to say, ‘Oh, let’s turn it in. We can find her this way.’ I would have never thought of that.”
Maria Serban, 24, now faces two counts of felony stealing. St. Louis County charging documents add, “She was further identified from surveillance video of the two thefts by a Texas police detective personally familiar with the defendant.”
FOX 2 then found Texas court records showing Serban currently faces a felony stealing charge in Comal County, Texas. Records also reflect a prior conviction for organized retail theft.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said, “You just might not think that, ‘Hey, I’m going to DNA on just a theft case.’ But that’s why I tip my hat. I think in this job, investigations being detailed and thorough and accurate are hallmarks of the better departments. We have some great departments, and so I’m not surprised, but certainly appreciative.”
ULTA Beauty, in a statement to FOX 2 added, “The safety of our associates and guests is always our highest priority. While we are unable to comment on ongoing investigations, we are cooperating with local law enforcement as the investigation continues.”
Serba is not currently in custody. Her listed address is in Texas. St. Louis County prosecutors are asking for a warrant to bring her here to answer to the felony theft charges.