Former humane society employee accused of felony theft

Police: Woman arrested after stealing checks, cash from humane society

A rural Scipio woman is accused of stealing more than $1,000 in animal adoption fees from the Bartholomew County Humane Society.

Brittany Hooper, 23, a former humane society employee, was arrested Monday on a warrant charging her with theft as a Level 6 felony.

The theft at the society’s animal shelter, located at 4415 E. County Road 200S, occurred on May 6, 2016, according to a probable cause affidavit filed late last week by Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Detective Jason Lancaster.

On that day, Hooper had stopped by the facility to visit former co-workers that included longtime shelter manager Jane Irwin, the affidavit states.

Irwin told investigators there was a short period of time when she left Hooper alone in her office during the visit, Lancaster said in the affidavit.

After Hooper left and Irwin discovered that $800 in cash and $300 in checks were missing from her desk drawer, the shelter manager notified the sheriff’s department, the affidavit stated.

Although Irwin has been with the Humane Society for almost 38 years, “I don’t recall anything like this ever happening before,” she said.

When Lancaster located Hooper, she admitted that she had stolen the items and said she still had most of the money, and seemed willing to return it, Lancaster wrote in the affidavit.

But as of Feb. 2, she still had not returned the stolen adoption fees, the affidavit stated.

Fees collected for adoptions do not cover all the expenses the agency incurs at its shelter, including vaccinations, disease testing, spaying, flea treatments, microchips and identification tags, Irwin said.

“We’re not in there to make a profit,” Irwin said. “We just need to keep our heads above water.”

It is only with additional funds raised through donations and fundraising that the humane society stays afloat, Irwin said.

Jail records indicate Hooper was arrested late Monday morning at a business near Tipton Lakes on the city’s far west side.

She was booked into the Bartholomew County Jail at 12:17 p.m., and released a short time later after posting a $1,000 cash bond, jail records state.

Hooper is scheduled to appear before Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin for an initial hearing at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 27.

A separate case involving another theft also has been filed against Hooper in Bartholomew Superior Court 2, court records show.  In that matter, she’s facing a misdemeanor conversion charge for an incident that took place on Dec. 27, 2015, court records state.

Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden has scheduled a March 22 pre-trial conference, as well as a tentative April 19 trial date, regarding the conversion charge.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.