Woman ar­rested in theft of $15,000 fur coat at MGM

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY LORI ARATANI lori.aratani@wash­post.com

A diner at Fish, the José An­drés seafood restau­rant at the MGM Na­tional Har­bor casino, found out the hard way that $15,000 fur coats some­times have a strange way of dis­ap­pear­ing.

In late Jan­uary, the woman checked her full-length gray mink into one of the coat-check rooms at the casino in Prince Ge­orge’s County. The coat was a spe­cial item from Neiman Mar­cus with sen­ti­men­tal value. It was mono­grammed with her ini­tials “FFH” in­side.

But be­tween the time she sat down for din­ner — which could have in­cluded an ap­pe­tizer of live sea urchin or shrimp and grape­fruit cock­tail fol­lowed by lob­ster jam­bal­aya — and when she re­turned for the coat, it had van­ished.

Ac­cord­ing to an ap­pli­ca­tion for a search war­rant granted by the D.C. Su­pe­rior Court ear­lier this month, here’s what hap­pened.

Shortly af­ter the woman left her coat, an­other woman, iden­ti­fied as Rosa Aviles of South­west Washington, left her own coat, a black and white check­ered num­ber, in the same coat room.

Aviles later re­turned to re­claim her coat, but af­ter two tries, the at­ten­dant could not find it. So the at­ten­dant then al­legedly al­lowed Aviles, 45, to en­ter the coat room and look for it her­self. Af­ter look­ing at all the coats, the war­rant said, Aviles al­legedly told the at­ten­dant that the full-length gray mink was, in­deed, hers.

Se­cu­rity cam­era footage then cap­tured im­ages of Aviles wear­ing the mink over her pink col­lar­less shirt and tan sweater as she left the casino.

That might have been the end of it had it not been for a sharpeyed Prince Ge­orge’s County po­lice of­fi­cer, who rec­og­nized Aviles from a photo dis­trib­uted dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The of­fi­cer said he and Aviles worked in the same of­fice, which hap­pened to be the main county ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing in Up­per Marl­boro.

Po­lice ob­tained the search war­rant on March 1 and re­cov­ered the coat the next day. Aviles has been charged with theft and is ex­pected to ap­pear in Prince Ge­orge’s County Dis­trict Court on April 7.

Reached by phone on Satur­day, Aviles de­clined to com­ment. Of­fi­cials with MGM Na­tional Har­bor did not re­spond to phone calls and emails seek­ing com­ment on the in­ci­dent and whether it has prompted any changes to coatcheck poli­cies.

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