Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Which Scofflaw Stole Walmart's Loot?

American Scofflaw
Walmart shoppers pay in cash — lots and lots of cash, records of a daring $200,000-plus heist show.

And the thief walked right out the front door with the money, stopping only momentarily to fool a front-of-the-store greeter.

No standard crime, Orange County Sheriff's Office reports describe a classic inside job when a man dressed as a Walmart supervisor emptied the safe at Walmart's Turkey Lake Road store.

Store cameras followed him from the moment he parked until he left the store, pushing a shopping cart holding boxes packed with cash. Though it happened July 11, the agency waited until Friday to seek the public's help after exhausting conventional means to catch the thief.

"There's surveillance video of a lot of crime, but without the right audience seeing it to identify the suspect, it's just video," sheriff's Detective David Lindberg said. "That's why we want the public to look at it."

All the theft took was seven minutes, and the video provides a ticktock of the crime:

•21:35 (9:35p.m.): A late-model, white Ford Explorer entered the parking lot through southeast entrance. One man got out. He appears to be a 5-foot, 11-inch, 240-pound, bald, black man wearing a porkpie-style hat, clear eyeglasses, black pants, a long-sleeve blue shirt, a necktie and black knit gloves.

The Sheriff's Office did not estimate the burglar's age.

•21:36: The man entered the store pushing a shopping cart containing two white file boxes.

A Walmart worker going to work noticed the stranger wearing a Walmart assistant manager badge with "John" on it. The worker told investigators that he assumed "John" was a new supervisor. He also told them the man has a tattoo on his neck of a cross with a loop on top.

•21:38: "John" headed directly to the store office, where he stopped a Walmart cashier and asked her to hold his shopping cart while he was in the office. He used a key to open a locked, inner-office door, and he walked right to the safe in the back of the office.

"The man entered the key combination on the keypad, opened the safe and then proceeded to load the cash into the two white file boxes," a report states.

•21:41: After closing the safe, the burglar carried boxes outside the office and loaded them into his shopping cart. Then he headed for the store exit.

However, a Walmart greeter briefly stopped the cash-rich thief at the door and asked to see his sales receipt.

"The man continued to walk out the store," the report states. "Upon insisting to see his receipt, the man held up his name badge that said assistant manager and 10 years of service on it."

The greeter let him pass.

•21:42: Pushing the cash in his shopping cart, the burglar walked out the front of the store and loaded the boxes into the right rear passenger seat of the Ford Explorer waiting outside the entrance. He hopped into the front passenger seat and is driven away.

The Sheriff's Office did not disclose the exact amount of cash stolen but stated it exceeded $200,000. If caught, the burglar faces at least one count of first-degree grand theft, a crime involving theft of more than $100,000, records show.

In the months since the burglary, most employees of Walmart's Turkey Lake Road store have been shown the surveillance video. None admitted recognizing the thief.

And Walmart officials say it's the only crime of its kind in one of its stores, Lindberg said.

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