A tip from a passing motorist helped Waxahachie police crack a major retail theft ring earlier this week.

“It proves that being observant and being willing to call the police really makes a significant impact in fighting crime,” said Waxahachie Police Sgt. Keith Putman, as he praised the alert citizen.

Putman explained that around 8:30 Tuesday evening, a citizen passing by the Lowe’s store in Waxahachie noticed a large box van near the garden center with two people loading merchandise into the back of the van. There were no store employees assisting and the citizen thought the scene seemed out of order and called police.

“We responded to the call and stopped the van just as it was leaving the parking lot,” Putman said. “When we looked inside the van we discovered items from a lot of different stores inside. After some investigation, we determined that the merchandise had come from stores all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Putman said that more than $6,000 in stolen property was recovered from the van.

“That’s just what we recovered so far,” he said, noting the investigation is continuing.

Putman said the suspects allegedly would go into stores and remove merchandise from the side doors and garden centers without being noticed.

Larry Hines, 40 and Jennifer Jennische, 32, both of the Houston area, were arrested on theft charges.

He added at this time police believe the two suspects were acting alone.

“During our investigation they told us they had been doing this for several months — if not years,” Putman added.

“We want to convey to everyone in the community that when they call us, they shouldn’t feel like they are bothering us because they are helping us immensely,” he said. “We welcome those phone calls.

“Just by someone being aware and making a simple phone call can help us clear numerous cases,” he added.