Sandtisha Gardner, 35, the suspect in a series of thefts at the University of Texas Health Science Center and St. Mary’s University, has a lengthy criminal history that includes a conviction for a similar crime in the past.
Among her numerous prior arrests was one in 2007 related to a theft at Baylor University, records show.
According to the charge she faced at that time, Gardner had two or more previous convictions for theft in excess of $1,500.
Records show she was found guilty of that charge in 2010, and later sentenced to two years in prison.
Gardner was arrested again Thursday on a warrant from police with the University of Texas.
An arrest warrant affidavit stated that she has been linked to several thefts on Sept. 9 at UTHSCSA.
According to the affidavit, the victims were all employees of the dental school who left their offices or work spaces to go to lunch.
When they returned, they discovered personal items, including laptop computers, cellphones, wallets and credit cards, were missing.
"You can blend in and you can fit into a campus environment without a lot of questions being asked,” said Michael Parks, chief of the University Police Department, explaining how Gardner may have gained access to the building. "What she'd do is she would check offices to see if they were unlocked and look for opportunities to get into people’s private offices.”
Parks said Gardner was not a student or employee of the school.
Soon after the thefts, several of the stolen credit cards were used at local stores, Parks said.
In November, KSAT 12 News aired a Crime Stoppers report featuring surveillance photos of a woman using the stolen credit cards.
Parks said they received a tip right away from St. Mary's University police investigators.
Sgt. Tony Lummus said there had been two similar thefts at his campus, and that he had identified Gardner as a suspect.
Lummus said during the investigation, detectives found evidence showing there had been about 30 victims statewide.
Although police at St. Mary’s University did not arrest Gardner at that time, Lummus said charges are pending.
Parks said he was impressed by the amount and quality of police work that led to Gardner’s arrest.
"To actually link those together, it was great for us and it was sort of a windfall," he said.