A Girl Scouts leader in central New Jersey was axed as a volunteer after police said her claims someone stole money from her troop while they were selling cookies at a mall may have never happened.
The Girl Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey said in a statement on their website Wednesday they were “surprised and very saddened” about how the police investigation turned out and removed the volunteer leader, identified by police as Jessica Medina, from her position.
Woodbridge police said last week that it was investigating the alleged theft of $1,000 after they were told by Medina that a man, who may have been wearing a disguise, allegedly picked up a bank envelope from a table where Girl Scouts Troop 80062 were selling cookies at the Woodbridge Center mall.
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The Woodbridge Police said in a press release Tuesday that their investigation found “insufficient evidence to support the theft allegation as it was initially reported.”
According to authorities, Medina initially said the envelope, which contained about $500 in cash and several checks, was left unattended on the table. The Police Department said Tuesday that after interviewing parents, troop members and other people at the cookie sale event they learned that the envelope was kept in a secure cash box and was never left out on the table.
Medina had also said that the theft was captured on mall surveillance camera and that a man who was with an elderly woman using a red walker allegedly took the envelope. Police said they interviewed the man and woman and eliminated them as suspects. Authorities also learned that the alleged theft was not caught on camera.
Police said Medina changed her story during follow-up interviews and speculated that she believes the envelope may have been accidentally tossed in the trash the day of the cookie sale event.
“The Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey expects the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and ethical behavior from our volunteers, in keeping with our mission, our values, and our Girl Scout Promise and Laws,” the organization said in a statement announcing that Medina was removed as a volunteer.
After news of the alleged theft was reported, several people reached out to Girl Scouts about making donations. One man, named Mick Kless, told News 12 New Jersey that he donated $1,200 to the troop.
Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey said in their statement that all donations made to or for the troop will be returned upon request.
“Our focus now is helping our girls to move forward with their cookie season and the continuation of their Girl Scout journey, building leadership skills that will give them the courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place.”
Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.