Polk sheriff arrests shoplifters - FOX 13 News

Polk sheriff arrests shoplifters

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BARTOW (FOX 13) -

Sure, Sheriff Grady Judd admits they nabbed a few small-timers.

"It was $1.50 for some Pringles. And when asked why in the world would you steal Pringles, do you know what the response was? 'I had been smoking marijuana and I had the munchies,' " Judd said.

But the sheriff also says they made some big arrests. Deputies recorded Stephanie Harris on video as they locked her up at a Walmart. They say they found $300 of food hidden in a baby carrier.

"We know that if we arrest the shoplifters, we are arresting the thieves that are in our communities and stealing from us at night while we are away from our businesses," Judd said.

Harris and the juvenile with the munchies were among the 41 people caught over two days at big box stores by Polk County detectives.

They're allegedly responsible for stealing around $3,500 worth of stuff. He says it was crucial to arrest people like Patsy Martin.

"She has 23 previous charges," Judd said.

Miles David Wilson is also in custody. Investigators say he was caught on video stealing $500 from Belk.

The sheriff's office says theses arrests signal a new era in how they fight crime. They say no one's getting away with an appearance ticket anymore.

"They have migrated to the area of least resistance for them, that has historically been the stores. We are saying no more," Wilson said.

But Sheriff Judd also accused these folks of stealing in a different way.

He pointed out that of the 37 suspects, 18 of them were receiving federal assistance, including Harris, who the sheriff said somehow got a hold of eight government-issued cell phones that are generally reserved for domestic violence victims.

"You should sign an agreement, oh by the way, any future arrest will result in your loss of government assistance. Do you hear anybody suggesting that?" Judd said.

We made an effort to contact several of the suspects, but were unsuccessful; 21 of them are still in jail.

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