Thieves drain checking account after stealing woman's ATM card

Juneau police following leads on teen-aged suspects

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Juneau resident Marilyn Estenson has not had a good week.

The woman, who is recovering from back surgery, had her large, black day planner stolen from her vehicle Thursday, either at the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool or Lee Smith Drive. That afternoon, the thieves took her ATM card to Big Kmart and withdrew the $220 in her checking account. Police officer Joel Hinz, who is investigating the case, suspects the thieves are three teen-age girls. A photo was taken by the ATM machine, and Hinz is in the process of narrowing down the times and withdrawals until he makes a match.

"The money was all I had left until the end of the month, and I would have given them a $200 reward for the organizer, because it has everything in it: My passport, birth certificate, Social Security, credit cards, pictures of my family, my merchant marine papers, prescriptions for X-rays here, everything," Estenson said.

The checking account theft is not covered by insurance, and, since she already had written checks to cover bills, Estenson said she will be liable for overdraft charges as well.

Estenson, 53, is reluctant to press charges against teens. "But I don't want to let them go scot-free. I want them to learn a lesson. My wallet is my life. If they could drop it off at the library or the police station or put it in a mail box, I will go easy on them," she said.

Estenson is recovering from spinal surgery performed at a San Luis Obispo, Calif., hospital last July. She was working on board a ship in 1989, and tangled with a large mooring line called a hawser that threw her into the air and then onto the deck. She was told she had "chronic back pain" and lived with it for years, until she was found to have two herniated disks and two cracked vertebrae. She then underwent bone grafts.

Although Estenson is "just getting on her feet" and feeling better, she wears a full torso brace and must don an electro-magnetic bone growth stimulator for four hours a day. "I was supposed to go to California for more surgery at the end of this month, but I won't go now," she said.

Estenson has lived in the Juneau area for nine years. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service as an office automation clerk for five years, and is now on disability. She lives in a condo on Douglas with her son and grandson. "We're trying to make it here," she said.

Last week was a hectic one. "I always lock my car door, but I was caring for my friend's house in the valley and rushing between there and my house and the pool, where I swim for two hours a day. And maybe I spaced it (locking the door)," Estenson said.

Anyone with information about the theft should call Hinz at 586-0600.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.

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