Posted 6 months ago
By John Axtell
Chadron police have arrested 3 Pine Ridge, South Dakota, residents for shoplifting nearly $1,500 in items from Wal-Mart, and Police Chief Tim Lordino says they may have hit other stores around the region as well.
33-year old Michael Merrival, 24-year old Kandis Little, and 19-year old Katie Little are all being held on charges of Theft by Shoplifting and Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Shoplifting. Bail for each is $25,000.
Wal-Mart employees contacted police about 2:45 Tuesday afternoon after spotting a man who fit the description of the suspect who fled the store before police could arrive last November after trying to shoplift $1,500 worth of merchandise.
Chief Lordino says Sgt Mike Loutzehiser…the watch commander…contacted the Nebraska State Patrol and the Dawes County Sheriff’s Office for help in coordinating surveillance of the man and anyone he might have helping him, and to close off the 3 exits from the Wal-Mart parking lot.
“We sent in one of our drug investigators in plainclothes. When we set up the surveillance, we set off far away so they couldn’t see the patrol cars sitting there because we felt they as though they were running some sort of counter-surveillance themselves in the parking lot.”
Lordino says when the man left the store and went to a van in the parking lot, the officers from the various agencies closed in.
“We ended up having contact with 5 suspects next to the van, which was registered out of South Dakota. We served a search warrant on the van and recovered $662 of suspected stolen merchandise. They also abandoned in the store close to $900 in merchandised they’d packaged in a similar manner.
The recovered items included jewelry, makeup, clothing, purses, sunglasses, shoes, DVDs, and cell phones. Officers also seized what they believed was to be marijuana.
Lordino says because of the volume of items taken and the similarities with the incident last November, it’s possible…if not likely…that Merrival and the Littles may have pulled off major shoplifting incidents before.
“We believe that this group, or part of this group, might have been involved in thefts at other Wal-Marts and retail stores as well, so we will be checking with other law enforcement agencies around our region.
Sgt Loutzenhiser calls the Tuesday arrests a “good team effort between Wal-Mart employees and local law enforcement,” and thanks the employees for their help and cooperation.
He also says that it’s important to report even seemingly minor crimes such as shoplifting because they result in monetary losses to stores that typically result in higher prices for everyone else.