Thieves target new Wal-Mart

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Rick Couch / News Editor

When the Demopolis Wal-Mart Supercenter held its grand opening last Wednesday, hundreds of people crowded the store to shop or just to look around.

But, there were others who came to the new store for a more sinister reason. Four people were arrested for shoplifting and another for forgery in the Supercenter’s first two days in business.

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The volume of offenses at the store was an increase from the average number of incidents at the old store, but Demopolis Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel said this was to be expected.

“Anytime a new store opens like this and there is increased traffic we expect something like this,” Manuel said. “With the opening of the Supercenter and some of the other stores in the area, there are always people who are going to want to test out the security.”

Early tests from shoplifters failed. Store security was able to identify all the offenders before they could leave the premises. They then notified the police department and all were taken into custody.

Three offenders were taken into custody the first day. Wendy Michelle Austin, 30, was taken into custody for forgery. Joy Suzanne Dean, 45 and Lucretia Ann Buckalew, 43, were arrested on charges of theft of property, third degree for shoplifting.

Dean was held for theft of an assortment of household goods, while Buckalew was charged with theft of a digital fish scale.

The second official day of business, Jan. 26, two more people were apprehended for shoplifting. Jeffrey Burton Horning Jr., 22, and a juvenile were arrested on charges of theft of property, third degree for theft of a weight loss product known as Stacker Three.

No further incidents were reported at the store for the remainder of the week.