By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — Hopkins police are looking for a woman they say stole a volunteer’s purse from a local church office and went on a $3,000 spending spree. Criminal charges have been filed against 33-year-old Ariane Michelle Swanson of Minneapolis.

Police say surveillance videos show Swanson using the  victim’s checking account to buy a $1,000 flat-screen television from a Sam’s Club in Maple Grove back in January. That same day, they say she made several other expensive purchases and bought gift cards at a Walgreen’s in Golden Valley. Those cards were then used to get a room that night at the Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis.

“She decided she is going to have a fun evening, checking into a hotel, all courtesy of the victim,” said Hopkins Sgt. Michael Glassberg.

Sgt. Glassberg said Swanson’s spending spree started after she allegedly stole a purse from an office at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church. She stopped in the church claiming to be there to use the bathroom, said Glassberg.

“She was confronted by an employee who did not recognize her and became concerned and asked her to leave,” said Glassberg.

By the time the volunteer realized her purse was missing, police say Swanson had already racked up thousands of dollars in purchases using the victim’s credit cards and checking account.

Police tracked down videos of the purchases, and working with neighboring police agencies, they developed Swanson as a suspect.

Pastor John Nelson said the theft is a reminder that even sacred places aren’t always a safe haven from crime.

“As a community of faith we struggle. We want to be open to the community at large but also need to be aware about protecting ourselves,” he said.

Police say Swanson has a lengthy criminal history. Anyone who knows her whereabouts is asked to call 911.

Comments (49)
  1. Jay says:

    Hmmm- just looking at her complexion you can tell there is some drug use .

    1. Sandy says:

      So now every teen with pimples is a drug user. Stop making stupid statements

      1. Ann says:

        Looks like a METH HEAD to me!

        1. Mom says:

          Ann-You talk like an idiot too.

        2. Hugh Jorgan says:

          Roger that!

      2. Ron says:

        She is 33 years old. This is not due to pimples. Maybe you need to stop with the foolish statements Sandy.

      3. Amazed says:

        A 33 year old woman…NOT A TEEN!

  2. Sam I Am says:

    Meth does that to a person.

  3. Just Ask'n says:

    Wouldn’t an upscale hotel downtown be a little suspicious of her appearance and paying with gift cards? Most people who work with the public know a tweaker when they see one. I guess it’s not against the law to look like a meth smoker…but I have been 86 out of hotel/motel rooms for just a bit of partying.

    1. JLD says:

      I was wondering the same thing!!! I understand not wanting to discriminate, but really, this woman is obviously um, what’s the word? Strung out? So wouldn’t you question her checking in to upscale digs?

  4. Victim Du Jour says:

    Does meth make teeth turn brown or yellow?

    1. JamieinMN says:

      BLACK. And you get scabs all over your face and sunken cheeks.

  5. hmoob Lee says:

    how do you know sam i am, your probably a meth user too hahahahahaha

    1. JamieinMN says:

      Have you ever SEEN a meth user???? THAT is, with 98% certainty a METH HEAD.

  6. JamieinMN says:

    Hmmmm can we say METH-HEAD?!?!?!!?!!!!!!

  7. Doug says:

    She should have bought some PROACTIVE with the money, and then went back to church and prayed it would work.

  8. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

    How very sad. She’s only 33 and already in so much trouble. I wonder if she feels any remorse? Probably not.

  9. lib says:

    preying on those who pray.

  10. Patrick O'Toole says:

    33 going on 60

  11. Big Mike says:

    If ever there was someone standing in the need of prayer, it’s got to be her! She could turn her life around simply by believing (and trusting) in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ ( the gospel). It’s heartbreaking to see someone so young with such a flippant attitude towards others and herself! let’s pray for her!

    1. william heins says:

      I know she can become a new creation! I was doing the same thing as her once.. I was raised by criminals and drug addicts.. I was the worst hopeless cause there was ever… I have been arrested over 200 times over a dozen felonies and thrived on being the worst in MN…(grimmest !) But as a child I new God was real…. I was locked away in my room off and on as a kid for 7 years.. at age 10 I was broken! Sitting in a basement room I felt His presence I began..looking in proverbs and psalms for answers..
      In 2008 I was told about this program called Place of Hope in very simalar to teen challenge..except there are no more then 10 people in the 7 month program at a time…I surrendered myself and everything to the lord..I feed the homeless everyday..studyied Jesus! Studied myself! Worked with troubled kids.. man what a program nothing like it in the world! In that seven months i seen about 25 people come and go…only 4 graduated! I was one… I’ve been sober for 2 1/2 yrs now! I still help Place of Hope! I go to different churches and speak about my story to give Hope! I can’t tell you the true JOY I have now! There is none like our God! Tomorrow im meeting a writer about my book! I have some stories that will make your jaw drop! Like when my brakes went out and I drove into the Black Canyon in CO. Its a 3000 ft deep canyon some how I few out and landed 400 ft down in a sharp bush the only bush in that area…when I hit I saw a blinding light! 1000x a camera flash.. I was so hurt I tried to crawl but the bone was sticking out of my knee….as I clung to those rocks bleeding from 70% of my body.. God spoke to me! He said stop! Stop running and doing evil.. He said you are mine! I begged for forgiveness! The rest is in the book! Most of my life has been Wow! But God wants me to reach parents kids and anyone who thinks its hopeless! There is hope! If I can change! Anyone can! Alls it takes is true surrender! If you want the best feeling on earth ..follow jesus and help others to Him! I have been changed from the inside out! Set free! So Ariane..Sis… ms Grimmie! Jesus has sent me for you! He wants you on the winning team hun! Hang up satans jersey of lies and. Destruction ! Put on the righteous armor of God! He loves you hun! I know you can be a powerful women of God with. Your testimony Sis! I am! No drug in the world can ever compare to the feeling I get after I share my story..people come up. With tears in there eyes and hug me … and say thank you for that! I touch peoples lives! That’s awesome to take all the pain in my life and use it foe good! Only God! Praise Him.. I pray for your heart sister! You are his child ariane! And he wants you to smile and be free! Love you! In Jesus Christs Presious name!

      K ???????? Y

      1. lib says:

        Thank you for a wondrful Testimony. You have proven anyone can be healed through Christ.

        1. His. Will says:

          I just praise God for His mercy! And thanks! 🙂

      2. Tom says:

        Give it a rest Pal!

        1. His Will says:

          Oh Tom! I was blind too at one time!! But now I truely see! And yes Tom he even loves you! There are 2 times when we should praise Him…when we feel like it and when we don’t!!”

  12. not so righteous says:

    You know what ya shouldnt judge and act like all of you are so righteous. All of you who dont have a life and have nothing better to than sit on here and declare your perfection make me sick.

    1. His Will says:

      Yes! I agree … let any of you who do nothing wrong cast the first stone…

  13. ChunkyT says:

    You pray for her, I’ll pray she and her friends can’t figure out how to steal from my wife or me. BTW, I will “judge” any sociopath that steals from someone else…Church or not. It is not normal to steal from other people. Stop covering for socialital degenerates.

    1. FlippIn crazy adult kids says:

      You need to try a diet Chunky…really 😉

  14. wh says:

    Yes mmmm PRAYER ! Sir I was the worst case most hopeless ,criminal mastermind that this state has ever seen! A little of my story is above !

    I gave my life now to Jesus! He is the one who has transformed my mind my heart and my soul… I’ve seen Him do miricles. Time and time again! Im talking like stuff that is like WOW! God wants me to write a book about my life! So I am and start tomorrow … the more you believe the more He is evident in your life! I know that Jesus is the son of God! And that I am loved by him. ! I pray right now in Jesus’s name that you take back Ariane! !Father I pray that you take her and show all who doubt that you can take the most hopeless cases such as I once was and turn us into loving, caring, good people. I pray in your sons name that you touch Ariane right now father.. and I thank cause I pray known that you will answer! I love you lord! Thank you! For rescuing me! Now instead of causeibg pain im working for Jesus helping teens in addiction, giving people hope! Working with homless! Spending time with my family! And just being a shinning beekan for the lord let me tell you I came to Him more then a mess you can ammagine! And He who is mercyful has transformed and renewed my mind! !
    Hey I know your scared Sis… but I want you to think about this!! God can’t look upon sin! So ask for forgiveness in jesus name and mean it.. and He wont even remember any of those sins again! Ms grimmie he is the way the truth and the life ! I no a lot of you sceptics are like whoa this dude has lost it! Haha but the truth is I’ve found Him! And He is the king of kings and will come for His people again! So mock and laugh but I Will honor Jesus ..For Jesus Saves!

    1. EP Dude says:

      What’s a “shinning beekan?”
      You still are “more then a mess you can ammagine!”
      You need more than a mythical character to “save” you, pal.

      1. His Will says:

        Oh ! Although Gods Mercy triumphs over judgement … you Will have a chance to tell God what you think of Him…. listen its never too late to believe! I hope you do before its too late.

  15. Big D says:

    @jay, I am a 37 year old male… I still get pimples from time to time… so I guess i am a drug user??? are you a f$%^ing moron that listens and believes everything you are told??? I’ts all the hype from law enforcement that you morons believe… if a cop say’s any adults with blemishes on there face are drug addicts… Your a moron and so are 95% of police….

    1. Thor says:

      He may be a moron lil’ D but stating 95% of police ….. really hope the next time you in a ditch no “moron” from the PD is sent to assist. They might just get “lost” lmao

    2. JamieinMN says:

      Usually it’s the gang bangers, thugs, and criminals who hate DA PO-LICE…hmmmmmmm.

  16. Mike says:

    I gave my life to blue and red fin aliens. Seems to be working just fine.
    I hope this young lady rights her course.

  17. Barbilou says:

    Who carries around $3000 in one’s purse?

    1. M says:

      If you would have read more than the first paragraph you would have know the person used a credit card and a checking account card. There was not $3000 of cash.

    2. JamieinMN says:

      Funny how people DON’T read the entire article and then make themselves look like idiots….love it.

      1. Gants says:

        😉 😉 😉 🙂

      2. M says:

        Have to admit that was rather humorous. Made my day.

  18. fred says:

    probably the only time she went to church

  19. Mel says:

    Goes to show that a church is still perceived as a place of help and refuge, which makes the theft seem more agregious. Hopefully they find this person and she can be held accountable for her actions. It is an absolute paperwork nightmare when someone steals your identity, uses your accounts to purchase things. BTW, no one checks our licenses anymore to compare the signature and name. A LOT of identity theft could be stopped in its tracks if cashiers verified the person using the credit card has authority to do so.

  20. pastorsstealfromgod says:

    well,atleast she got a t.v.,instead of the money going into the offering plate so the pastor/preist could get a new t.v.,huh?

    1. Mel says:

      Right, cause heaven forbid a pastor should have anything any other American family has in there living room! Pastors should also have to drive beater cars! Who cares if they are going to use it to bring food to the homeless, or visit your grandma in the nursing home, or drop whatever he/she may be doing so she can help someone in crisis. And heaven forbid a pastor should actually ever take a vacation with his family or buy something new! I mean, they are supposed to be poor and suffering, not thriving and enjoying life!

      You have no idea the kind of sacrifices a pastor makes for the Lord, or the kind of expectations people put on pastors. How many times have you been called at 2am because someone’s child/husband/wife/parent died, and you find yourself rushing to a hospital so you can console someone experiencing their worst nightmare. Have some respect!

    2. Blotto says:

      you don’t really believe she is watching that TV? Com’ on! She already had it sold before she bought the damn thing. Than drove straight to her dealers house to get high on some Meth.

  21. EP Dude says:

    You know if she was a certain ethnic type da PO-leece would claim she be usin’ da TV money ta buy food fo her fambly!

  22. His Will says:

    Whoa! Man I pray for your soul… Pastors are spiritual leaders.. and im not saying there aren’t some crooked pastors! I agree with MEL…

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