5 arrested in Walmart, Target theft spree across region

19 cases totaled $100,000 worth of merchandise

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Christy Bowie said she doesn't feel secure knowing the store where she shops has been hit by a group of thieves.

And it's one of several Walmart and Target stores hit in the county and region.

"You feel like if that behavior is going on in the store, when am I going to get robbed, you know, and coming out to the parking lot," Bowie said. "If those people are in the store, they're eventually going to come out with their merchandise into the parking lot."

Police arrested five people they say have each stolen more than $100,000 worth of merchandise in a total of 19 cases, including 12 in Duval County, three in Clay County, two in Putnam County, one in Waldo and one in Orange County.

Investigators arrested Arkeem Woods, Samaria Gay, Antonio Calhoun, Jaron Scott and Wesley Walker, charging them all with grand theft.

Police say the suspects worked together. They say one would man the getaway car, another would be on the lookout and a few would go in the store.

They'd start by taking some clothes off the rack and throwing them in the cart, police said. Then they'd go to the electronics section, grab some hard drives and wrap them up in the clothes, according to police. Investigators said they'd stuff it all into a backpack and run out the front door with it.

Sensors on the merchandise often set off the store alarm, but the suspects were able to get away for months before they were caught, investigators said.

It's organized crime that Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson says a lot of thought went into.

"When you're looking at a store or retail merchant that's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and then you've got this elaborate operation of thieves coming in, that means that they've sat down and they've studied the movement of the people, what they want to get," Jefferson said.

A spokesperson from Wal-Mart issued this statement:

"We have a dedicated team of associates in all of our stores who are diligent in identifying those who break the law, and we've had strong success in stopping and preventing those who try to steal from us."

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