A West Plains woman has been arrested and charged after allegedly breaking into a storage unit used by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of West Plains and taking items meant to be auctioned off during organization's annual fundraiser, canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elizabeth A. Rost, 41, JJ Highway, was arrested on Thursday on outstanding city warrants and charged with second-degree burglary and stealing $750 or more, related to the storage unit burglary Friday. Her bond has been set at $5,000, according to court records.
According to Cystic Fibrosis of West Plains' Facebook page, the auction items were stored there after the organization's yearly concert fundraiser was postponed and eventually canceled due to COVID-19.
On Sept. 1, a woman was caught on surveillance camera at Kelley Self Storage at CC Highway and Katherine Street, and the theft was reported Monday. Still photos and surveillance footage was provided to Howell County Deputy Nicholas Bruno, who investigated the case.
The evidence appeared to show a woman pulling up to the storage unit in a red pickup truck and removing the unit's contents, valued at about $5,000.
Rost was reportedly identified from the evidence, and when interviewed by Bruno, she allegedly admitted to using a bolt cutter to cut the lock and break into the storage unit, and added she thought it belonged to her ex-husband and found out later it belonged to the cystic fibrosis charity.
Two dog beds and a backpack with a popcorn gift set, listed as some of the items stolen, were recovered. Rost reportedly claimed she burned the rest of the items in a fire pit because they had been rained on. Some of the other items included donated gift certificates stamped with "Cystic Fibrosis of West Plains," according to the organization's website.
Court documents show Rost was handed a five-year suspended execution of sentence a year ago after entering an Alford plea on a second-degree burglary charge out of Oregon County. Her bond on that conviction was forfeited by her bondsman July 30, after a warrant was issued on July 20 for failure to appear, according to court records.