3 years probation for woman accused in connection with 3 vehicle theft incidents

Katarina Panagiotopoulos

NEW BERLIN — A New Berlin woman accused of stealing or attempting to steal vehicles in three separate incidents to support a heroin addiction has been sentenced to probation.

Katarina Panagiotopoulos, 23, on Thursday, Sept. 27 pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor: attempted taking, driving a vehicle without consent and entry into locked vehicle.

She was then sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and 18 months extended supervision on the first charge — which was stayed. Panagiotopoulos was then ordered to serve three years probation, with 60 days in the Waukesha County Jail with Huber release as conditional time — which was stayed.

On the second count, Panagiotopoulos was ordered to serve 180 days in the Waukesha County Jail, with 162 days credit for time served. The court ruled time served — so Panagiotopoulos will serve a total of three years in prison.

A restitution hearing was set for Oct. 18, with more than $7,000 in restitution requested.

According to the criminal complaint, the most recent incident happened on Feb. 27. New Berlin police were dispatched to a laundromat on Calhoun Road for a report of a theft of a vehicle in progress. The complaint indicates Panagiotopoulos attempted to steal the vehicle of an off-duty Franklin police officer — who was doing laundry at the business. But before Panagiotopoulos could drive away, the off-duty officer confronted Panagiotopoulos — and ended up restraining her before New Berlin police arrived on the scene. Panagiotopoulos told police she was “trying to get money or steal the vehicle so that she could support her heroin addiction.”

The complaint indicates Panagiotopoulos stole a vehicle from the My Pantry on Calhoun Road on Feb. 22. The owner of a minivan had apparently left her keys in the ignition, left the vehicle running with her phone and purse visible — while she went into the store. Again, Panagiotopoulos admitted to police she took the minivan — and “went to the location in Milwaukee where she knew she could buy heroin.” The complaint says Panagiotopoulos “was able to get heroin by trading the stolen Caravan vehicle with the heroin dealer.”

Lastly, Panagiotopoulos is accused of stealing another vehicle from the same My Pantry on Jan. 25. The complaint indicates Panagiotopoulos went to the store “to go car shopping or steal a vehicle.” The victim this time left the vehicle running but took her keys inside the store — the vehicle had a push button start. Panagiotopoulos told police she was able to drive away with the vehicle — and drove to get some heroin. She told detectives “she had left the vehicle running the entire time she was in possession of it.”

A warrant was issued for Panagiotopoulos after she failed to show up for her preliminary hearing back in March.