2 who allegedly tried to steal teeth whiteners from Hempfield Target in custody |

2 who allegedly tried to steal teeth whiteners from Hempfield Target in custody

A Cambria County couple who scuffled with a security officer at the Hempfield Target store while attempting to steal $1,200 in teeth-whitening products was arrested this week by state police in Greensburg.

Christine A. Altschuh, 31, and Richard G. Mitchell, 42, both of Johnstown, were arraigned Tuesday before Hempfield District Judge Mark Mansour on charges of robbery, conspiracy and retail theft.

Court documents indicate that on Oct. 27, a security officer at the Route 30 store noticed Altschuh and Mitchell picking up a large number of whitening-strip kits valued at about $40 each, then walking to the furniture department, where they began stashing the kits in Altschuh’s purse.

Altschuh attempted to leave the store and was stopped by the security officer, documents show.

When Altschuh struggled with the officer over control of the purse, the officer was punched and kicked from behind by Mitchell, records indicate.

The suspects ran from the store and jumped into a silver Suzuki sedan, leaving Altschuh’s purse and the stolen merchandise behind, according to police reports.

A store surveillance camera captured the vehicle’s registration, which was traced to a family member of Altschuh who said the suspects frequently borrowed her car.

The security guard suffered minor injuries but declined medical treatment. He later identified the couple through photograph lineups, police said.

Police said pricey teeth-whitening products have become a favorite target of thieves, who often sell the merchandise for money to buy drugs.

Altschuh and Mitchell were ordered held in the Westmoreland County Prison after failing to post $25,000 and $50,000 bond, respectively. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 9 before Mansour.

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