Penny Winters (Credit: Portage Police)

Penny Winters (Credit: Portage Police)

PORTAGE (CBS) — A 63 year old maintenance worker at a Portage Indiana Wal-Mart was allegedly caught on video, gobbling down a package of Oreo Cookies she’d taken from a shelf in the store. Doesn’t sound too serious, does it? Wal-Mart thinks it is. Police say she’s admitted to pilfering food from the store for months, and for years at another Wal-Mart store.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker has the tale of the “Oreo Grandma.”

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At the woman’s Lake Station home, her son John seemed shocked at the trouble his mother is in.
She’s a good person, he told us, and has worked for Wal-Mart for eight years.

In the Portage Police arrest report, Penny Winters reportedly told officers she committed numerous thefts while she worked nights at the store as a maintenance employee. The items were nothing fancy she said, mostly gum, chips and snacks, like those Oreo cookies she was seen eating on camera. Why did she pilfer the stuff? Because, she told investigators, she was making only $11.40 an hour, not enough to pay for the snacks.

And she admitted to doing the same thing, again and again, during the seven years she worked at an Arizona Wal-Mart.

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Wal-Mart and Portage Police are taking all this very seriously. Employee pilferage costs American business an estimated 50 billion dollars a year.

When told his mother now faces a felony theft charge, John Winters told us, “That’s not her. She’s not a thief. She’s never been in trouble a day in her life.”

Wal-Mart stores say they lose 3 billion dollars a year due to thievery, a good chunk of that is because of employee theft.

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If the grandmother is convicted, she could – theoretically at least – face some jail time.