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Pa. Woman Charged in Hugging Muggings

March 23, 2005

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. (AP) _ A woman was charged with stealing money and other items in recent weeks by walking up to six elderly victims, giving them a big hug _ and then stealing their wallets or other loose items in the process.

Mary Ann Johnson pretended to know the victims who are too polite to refuse her hugs, police said.

It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday if Johnson has an attorney.

Violet Lawton, 79, said Johnson approached her at a supermarket March 15 talked about seeing her at church.

``I knew I didn’t know her, but I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t say anything,″ Lawton said. A short time later, Lawton found her wallet missing from her purse.

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