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ARRESTS MADE IN RETAIL THEFT SCHEME
3 Arrests were made in the Retail Theft scheme from Walmart, 2600 SW 19th Ave. Rd.,that occurred on Thursday, April 11, 2013.
On April 11, 2013, at approximately 6:44pm, the Ocala Police Department responded to a report of a Retail Theft that had occurred at Walmart, 2600 SW 19th Ave. Rd. Customers standing in line to check out had observed a man exit the store with a cart full of merchandise he had not paid for. Just after he exited the store, a female subject with long dark hair went up to the cashier to advise she could not find her small child. This immediately put the store into a lock-down mode and employees began to search for the child. Not long after the lock-down, the woman came back and advised that she had found her child. She immediately left the business.
The witnesses observed this female get into a gold Dodge Durango with the male subject who had taken the cart full of unpaid merchandise out of the store. The witnesses got into their vehicle and attempted to follow the Dodge, but lost them in traffic.
Walmart Loss Prevention was able to find the subjects on their surveillance system and provide Officer Stacey Hunter with still photos of them. We provided these photos to the public and requested assistance in identifying the thieves.
On the following date, Friday, April 12, 2013 at approximately 11:54 PM, the same Loss Prevention officer who made the original report contacted the Ocala Police Department and advised that the same gold Dodge Durango was present in the Walmart parking lot at 2600 SW 19th Ave. Rd. He made contact with one male subject when he was taking a photo of the vehicle’s tag. This subject ran from the Loss Prevention Officer.
Officers then made contact with a white female whom the Loss Prevention Officer advised was the one involved in the theft scheme on the previous date. She was identified as Megan Marie Grant, DOB10/22/93. Grant advised officers that she had participated in the theft of merchandise from Walmart on April 11, 2013 with W/M Paul Joseph Valenti, DOB 5/22/92, and W/M Christopher Andrew Panco, 11/10/92. Grant advised that Panco was the subject that had just run from the Loss Prevention Officer. She advised that all three had put items in the cart to steal and that she had made the report to the employee of losing her little brother, however he is actually 17 and not a small child. Several of the items stolen on the previous date were recovered from the vehicle. Grant was arrested and taken to the Marion County Jail.
Officers McDonald and Ritz then went to Grant’s residence, where they were able to locate Valenti. He also advised to his participation in the theft. Valenti was arrested and more stolen items were located in the residence.
Walmart advised that they had been able to identify that about $1,100.00 in merchandise had been stolen in the theft. Property that was able to be located and recovered was valued at approximately $700.00.
On April 13, 2013 at approximately 3:00 AM, Panco walked into the Ocala Police Department’s headquarters at 402 S. Pine Ave. and turned himself in. Panco advised to putting items in the cart that Valenti pushed out of the store, but advised he had not known that they had intended to steal them. Panco said that when Valenti told him he was going to steal the merchandise, he went to the vehicle and waited for Grant and Valenti to come out. Panco was placed under arrest by Officer Bertalan and transported to the Marion County Jail.
We are happy to have been able to locate and identify these suspects and to have brought closure to this case. Walmart Loss Prevention is to be commended for its diligence and great work in assisting with this investigation.


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