GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While men are overwhelming the gender convicted of all kinds of crime, women are gaining in one area specifically: embezzlement.
In the past few months, 24 Hour News 8 has reported a number embezzlement cases involving women:
Mary Beth Knapp of Kentwood was the operations manager for D & M Logistics, also known as America’s Transportation Resources, based not far from the Gerald R. Ford Airport on 44th Street. She faces trial Feb. 26, accused of using gas cards to steal half a million dollars from her boss, who is also suing her in civil court.
Stephanie Marie DeBoer will be sentenced Feb. 20 in Kalamazoo Federal Court after she pleaded guilty to stealing more than $300,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876 where she was the office manager and bookkeeper.
A couple weeks ago, former East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety Clerk Regina White managed to escape jail by paying back the $230 she stole from the taxpayers.
Most recently, Jo Anna Schroeder of East Grand Rapids was accused of converting more than $285,000 from venders at Weiss Technik, a German-based manufacturer of environmental chambers, to her own personal bank account. When 24 Hour News 8 went to her home Tuesday seeking comment, no one came to the door even though someone was there.
Kelly Paxton, a former U.S. Customs investigator specializing in fraud and now a private investigator, is an expert in embezzlement cases involving women. She explained that women often hold jobs in which they have access to small sums of money, often without a lot of oversight.
“Pink collar crime is workers, primarily women, in those type of positions — bookkeeper, office manager, accounts receivable — that steal from the workplace,” Paxton explained Tuesday in a phone interview from her office in Oregon.
She says women are outpacing men in this one area of criminality.
“In a 10-year period, (embezzlement) increased only 2 percent for men and it was almost 40 percent for women,” Paxton said.
Women are more likely to steal because they feel they have been mistreated or because of a need. In Jo Anna Schroeder’s case, court records show she filed for divorce this summer and the situation involves three minor children.
“It starts out with a legitimate financial need but then once they start stealing they are like, ‘This really does make life easier,'” Paxton said.
Paxton said one of the ways to identify an embezzler is that they refuse to take vacations — because if someone else does their job, the thefts may be discovered.