Woman accused of grand theft for keeping phone

OKEECHOBEE — A woman is charged with grand theft after allegedly finding a phone valued at $900 and keeping it, rather than attempting to return it to the owner.

Her bond was set at $1,000.

Penny Gallarday

On Aug. 3, Okeechobee Police Officer Jessica Francis responded to a call at a local pizzeria in reference to a theft around 5:15 p.m. According to the report, a couple ate dinner at the restaurant and afterward, he accidentally left his phone on the table. When they returned to the restaurant a few minutes later, the phone was gone, and no one knew where it was, but they had GPS tracking enabled on the phone and watched as the phone began to move down the road.

Officer Francis and the couple followed the phone to Dewberry Gardens and then saw it move toward Dean’s Court, and Officer Francis contacted a unit in the area. As she called out the movement of the phone to them, they were able to locate a vehicle driving the same path, and Officer Jason Gavern initiated a traffic stop on a maroon van containing two occupants.

One of the occupants was identified as Penny Gallarday, 59, Southwest 15th Street, and she reportedly admitted to having the phone, but said she found it on the sidewalk. When she was asked what her intentions were, she reportedly said she “just figured she had a new phone.”

The phone was returned to the owner who said he wanted to pursue charges. Gallarday was transported to the Okeechobee County Jail for booking.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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