The Union Recorder

June 20, 2013

Traffic team uncovers shoplifting ring

Felicia Cummings
The Union-Recorder



A tip and a traffic stop landed three men behind bars Thursday afternoon in connection to an alleged shoplifting ring. 

Shortly after 1 p.m., deputies Shawn Tapley and Cameron Ptak of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office traffic enforcement team arrested three suspects in connection to an ongoing Walmart shoplifting ring.

“We received a tip that there was a burgundy vehicle on West Thomas Court, which contained stolen items and possibly drugs,” said Ptak. 

According to Ptak, upon arrival, law enforcement discovered a Dodge Durango, with several pieces of brand new merchandise inside.

“There was a Hewlett Packard computer, several Leapfrog hand held devices, and tools, all of which were brand new and still in the box,” said Tapley. 

The deputies saw two men, later identified as 27-year-old Ronald Troy Miller and 42-year-old William Cox. When the two suspects saw Ptak and Tapley approaching them, Cox fled on foot and was apprehended on Hancock Street. Another man walking with Cox was later identified as 50-year-old Leon Herman Tkalec Jr. 

When officers approached them men on Hancock Street, Tkalec was allegedly in the process of attempting to sell a brand new computer to a woman when the deputy caught up to them. 

After further investigation, deputies discovered that Cox and Miller were associated with an ongoing investigation of stolen merchandise from the local Walmart, a case Milledgeville Police Department officials has been working on for some time.

“These two have been a problem for the city of Milledgeville and Walmart for a while,” said Tapley. “Both have been seen on surveillance cameras taking items but they have never been identified, until now.” 

Each of the three suspects was charged with one count of giving an officer a false name. In addition to the false name charge, Miller is also charged with one count of possession of marijuana, along with multiple warrants taken out on him in association with the theft case at Walmart. Miller also has a probation warrant from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. Like Miller, Cox has multiple warrants in connection with stolen merchandise from Walmart. Cox also has previous warrants with the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was also a BB gun found in the center console of the vehicle that looked like a real pistol, but we’re still investigating as to who it belonged to,” said Tapley. 

Tkalec has a probation violation along with previous warrants with the Milledgeville Police Department. 

“I think this was great police work from two fine deputies, and as their captain I’m extremely proud of the work they’ve done,” said Cpt. Michael Lumpkin of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. 

All three men are being held in the Baldwin County jail and the case has been turned over to Detective Anthony Henderson with the Milledgeville Police Department. 

“These two are always very proactive in law enforcement and I couldn’t have asked for a better set of hard working, excellent deputies,” said Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee. 

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