UPDATE: Lawyer says woman no hacker — just an excellent shopper

A Lowe's store in Philadelphia
A Lowe's store. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

BRICK — A woman who found a loophole in the Lowe's website allowing her to order items without paying for them took the opportunity to resell the items to make herself some money, according to police.

Romela Velazquez, 24, and Kimy Velazquez, 40, were arrested earlier this month after a joint investigation by township police and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Prosecutor's spokesman Al Della Fave said authorities were alerted to a potential issue by a Lowe's Organized Retail Crime manager that Romela Velazquez had found a weakness in the company's website allowing her to get a wide variety of items without paying. She would then get the items mailed to her Brick home and then list the items on a local Facebook page for buying and selling items. Della Fave said Velazquez would list items she sold as "New In Box" and often sell them at a considerable discount from the store price.

According to police, Velazquez had enough stolen goods delivered to her home to fill an 18-foot trailer, which Della Fave said investigators described as "more of a warehouse than a home." Among the items Velazquez had delivered were a stainless steel Weber Grill, a gazebo, a 70-inch LED Smart TV, and clothing including UGG shoes and Victoria Secret underwear. Della Fave said the total value of the merchandise was estimated to be around $250,000.

Romela Velazquez was charged with second-degree computer criminal activity, second-degree theft by deception, and third-degree theft by deception. Kimy Velazquez was charged with third-degree receipt of stolen property and third-degree fencing.

Della Fave said the investigation is ongoing "in an effort to identify other victimized retailers, which may result in additional charges."

Both suspects were charged and released pending a future court date.

New Jersey 101.5 did not know Tuesday whether either of them had an attorney who could speak on their behalf.

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