Luck runs out for lotto thief

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By Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative

A Kettle Point woman admitted to a series of gas station and convenience store thefts, the last of which ended in a high-speed police chase through several farm fields in Chatham-Kent.

Jessica Kaczanowski, 35, admitted July 23 to taking part in four separate thefts in 2018 and 2019 that spanned four different towns: Komoka, Strathroy, Parkhill and Thamesville. She pled guilty to eight charges overall including use of fake ID’s.

Kaczanowski and a former boyfriend had a method to their heists. She would distract the store clerk by claiming to need help at the back of the store. When the clerk came to assist, her partner would reach over the counter and remove trays of scratch tickets. The pair would then leave, with the clerks not noticing the theft until hours later.

Their success ended in October 2018 when they abandoned their method during another attempt at knocking off a store. This time the man asked the clerk to take out the tickets so he could choose one personally. He then grabbed the entire tray and ran out of the store. Kaczanowski was waiting outside and the pair sped away. But both were arrested after police identified the truck on surveillance video.

The next summer Kaczanowski and the man pumped $20 of gas at a Thamesville station and took off without paying. Police located the vehicle and learned it had been stolen.

By this point the man was leading the cops on a high speed chase. He drove through several farm fields, damaging the crops. He also hit a cop car. He eventually stopped along the Bear Line in Dover Township and abandoned his passengers by fleeing in a stolen boat.

Kaczanowski and the other passenger were arrested. A combination of marine, canine and drone units were eventually able to capture the man.

“It was an unhealthy relationship, it was a very negative relationship, and caused her to be more engaged in her addiction at that point,” said defense lawyer Autumn Johnson. “She’s recognized that and she’s cut off ties with [the man].”

“Ms. Kaczanowski is in a position in her life where she is taking responsibility for her behavior and she is showing remorse for her actions, and would like to put these matters behind her and move forward,” says Johnson.

The Crown agreed with this assessment. “I think it’s clear from the nature of the offenses that substance abuse was the underlying issue, as well as her association with [the man],” says Crown lawyer Nila Mulpuru.

Justice Deborah Austin accepted the joint position of a six-month conditional sentence followed by a year of probation. Kaczanowski will have many conditions including a curfew, requirement to reside at a specific location, stay away from the stores she robbed, not have drugs or anyone else’s ID, and most importantly have no contact with the man she committed the crimes with.

“I just know that what I’ve done was really foolish and I’m sorry,” Kaczanowski said during sentencing.

• The Petrolia Independent

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