MIDLOTHIAN

A man believed to be homeless was arrested for three counts of property theft last week in Midlothian.

The suspect, 34-year-old Louie R Shafer, stole from three separate stores alongside West Main Street in Midlothian. Midlothian Police Capt. John Spann stated that Sgt. Mark Holton was conducting a routine check around the area Saturday, Feb. 2 when he ventured into a convenience store at around 7:20 a.m.

That was when the clerk remarked about something that she witnessed earlier that morning.

“She noticed a silver Dodge pickup truck across the street at the Ace Hardware parking lot when she came to work that morning,” Spann said. “She opened the door and went into the back room to turn off the alarm. When she came back, the truck was gone.”

Spann said the clerk didn’t think anything of it. Holton, however, went across the street to look into anyway.

Upon further inspection, Holton found tire tracks in the grass division, and a few cinder blocks were scattered around the tracks. Spann said it was suspected that someone had trespassed onto the property.

“Ace Hardware has swinging gates on their two entrances, and they lock the gates when they’re closed,” Spann explained. “It looked like the blocks fell off of a vehicle.”

Ace Hardware management was called out to the scene to further investigate with Holton. They discovered upon further review that a palette of topsoil was missing from the store. Holton advised the manager to conduct an inventory check while he went around the neighborhood looking for a vehicle that fit the suspect’s description.

Holton made his way to a mobile home park in the Buffalo Hills neighborhood later that morning. It was there where he found the stack of stolen topsoil on an empty lot in the park.

“There were several other items that weren’t reported stolen,” Spann remarked. “He identified containers of window cleaner, other types that had Murphy USA stickers on them.”

Spann stated that Holton assessed that the window cleaners came from the Murphy USA gas station located outside of Walmart. He ventured out there where a gas station clerk informed him that some items were missing from the store.

The clerk then pulled up the store’s video surveillance, which showed that the suspected vehicle was at the store at around 2 a.m. that same day.

“They saw the same silver pickup truck pull into the parking lot,” Spann explained. “A white male exited the vehicle, got those items off of the rack, and put them into his truck.”

That suspect, Spann stated, was later identified as Shafer. Holton later received word that bundles of firewood were missing from the Exxon gas station on Main Street as well.

Holton later returned to the mobile home park at around 4 p.m. to see if he could find any new leads. It was then where he identified the suspect’s vehicle and found Shafer inside. Shafer was taken into custody and charged for the three thefts.

“All of these were right off of Main Street,” Spann iterated. “He just kind of hopped from one side of the area to another and picked these items out one-by-one.”

According to the property reports, Shafer stole $1,075.60 worth of property from Ace Hardware, $388.36 worth of property from Exxon and $186.38 worth of property from Murphy USA. Shafer was charged with three counts of theft of property less than $2,500 and admitted to Wayne Mccollum Detention Center at 3:45 a.m. Monday.

Spann stated that Shafer had at least two previous theft convictions before his arrest. His total bond is currently set at $16,000.