Police Sorry For Fingering Wrong Person

(AP) Police in La Crosse are a little red-faced right now. They're apologizing after issuing an alert about a woman suspected of using a stolen credit card at a convenience store. They also helpfully issued surveillance video images of her.

Someone who works with the woman saw it and recognized her.

"The woman said her co-worker was kind of joking around and said, 'I thought I saw you on Crime Stoppers,'" said Officer Drew Gavrilos. "The woman hopped online and watched the video and found it was her."

But she hadn't done the crime.

Gavrilos said the mistake happened when police matched surveillance video with cash register information, trying to identify whoever used the stolen card.

They didn't realize there were two similar transactions about the same time.

"We had two very similar looking people come to the register about 10 to 20 seconds apart," each buying similar things, Gavrilos said. "It was a one-in-a-million type of thing."

They picked the wrong one for the Crime Stoppers information, and the public service announcement ran for three days before the mix up caused it to be pulled.

"We feel horrible about the mistake and want to do all we can to minimize any inconvenience or embarrassment this woman may have experienced," Gavrilos said.

Police sent the woman a personal note of apology and produced a new Crime Stoppers message with corrected information and a public apology, he said.

Police did not release the name of the woman.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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