ST. GEORGE — A Nevada man was arrested by officers in Washington City after he allegedly left Walmart with two large flat-screen TVs and other items Wednesday morning, police say.
Anthony Lewis of Henderson, Nevada was arrested shortly before 4 a.m. and booked into Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on a third-degree felony offense of retail theft $500-$1,500.
The incident began shortly after 1:15 a.m. when officers were dispatched to Walmart at 625 W. Telegraph Street on a reported theft, Washington City Police Lt. Jason Williams said.
Store employees told officers that a man, later identified as Lewis, was seen loading two “big flat-screen TV’s into a cart before he left the store without paying for the merchandise,” Williams said.
Lewis was also seen putting clothing items into shopping bags that he brought into the store with him, a witness said, and left without paying for the items.
Lewis was seen loading the televisions into a black GMC Yukon and driving off.
A short time later, officers stopped a Yukon matching the description provided by store employees, and while speaking to the driver noticed two new televisions in the rear of the SUV.
“The TVs were still in the box and unopened when he was stopped by for a lane violation,” Williams said, adding that Lewis told the officers that “he forgot to pay for the TV’s before leaving the store.”
Williams said it isn’t the first time police have heard that response, particularly when the individual is in possessions of the items when they are stopped and questioned by police.
Lewis was taken to jail and his vehicle impounded.
Walmart loss prevention
Walmart corporate spokesman Casey Staheli said that while no retailers are immune to the challenges of crime, “the relationship between the stores and law enforcement helps to reduce the amount of loss, particularly when the items are recovered so quickly,” and commended the efforts of the officers in this case.
He said Walmart invests heavily in loss prevention, adding that those efforts are moving from detecting crime to deterring it through “people, programs and technology.”
The three-prong effort includes adding thousands of “host positions” across the country filled by employees positioned near the front of the store to check customer receipts and answer questions, Staheli said. The company also has installed thousands of eye-level cameras that are easy to see and provided additional training for asset-protection employees to help them prevent a theft before it occurs.
The loss prevention effort is part of a $2.7 billion investment in an array of programs the company is implementing.
“It’s an investment that’s paying off, and the relationship between the stores and the local police department is an important part of that,” he said.
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