Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chatham nanny accused of "mercy stealing"

A 24-year-old law school student who worked as a nanny for a township family this summer was arrested on theft charges last week for sending $850 worth of her employer’s children’s clothes to an expectant mother in Texas, police said.

Donna Crowe of Wyckoff allegedly sent the clothes from her employer’s storage this summer to a woman in Cypress, Texas, she met through CafeMom.com, an advice and social networking site for mothers.

Police uncovered the theft while investigating Crowe’s interactions on the Web site because Crowe had established a CafeMom account pretending to be the mother of her employer’s children.

Crowe reportedly posted pictures of the boys she was watching, claiming they were her own, and of the interior and exterior of her employer’s home, police said. She also posted pictures of a man and a woman, claiming she was the woman and the man was her husband. Police don’t know who those people were, but said Crowe does not look like the woman she claimed to be.

An acquaintance of the family recognized the impersonation and contacted the family, police said.

The family fired Crowe and Chatham Township police immediately became involved because postings on the Web site indicated she would like to meet some of the other moms at a central location, possibly in Toronto with the children, police said.

Detective Sgt. William Behre established an account on the Web site and contacted moms who had left public messages on Crowe’s profile page. He identified himself as a Chatham Township police officer and asked the women to contact him.

Police don’t believe Crowe actually planned to take the children out of the country to meet other moms and no charges resulted from the impersonation.
“I don’t think it was going to happen,” Behre said. “If she were going to do it, she would blow her cover.”

But he did find out she had sent the clothing and a warrant for her arrest was issued in November. Crowe was notified about the warrant, but was out of state in Pennsylvania at law school, and turned herself in on Jan. 6.

Crowe, reached by telephone, declined to comment.

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