Shoplifting spree

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Lt. Lee Williamson looks over grocery items stolen from the Kroger store on North Columbia Street in Milledgeville last Thursday afternoon. A pair of suspects, both of whom reside in Laurens County, were later taken into custody for reportedly shoplifting items inside the Walmart store in Milledgeville. Photo courtesy of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office

A Laurens County woman, along with a 17-year-old girl are accused of stealing a buggy full of groceries, including boxes of crab legs and large bags of shrimp and other assorted items from the Kroger in Milledgeville last Thursday afternoon, local authorities say.

The same two suspects reportedly tried to shoplift items from the Walmart in Milledgeville a short time later that same afternoon, but were caught on surveillance video and detained by store personnel for authorities.

The suspects were identified as Mariah Sharmain Lovett, 27, of Riverview Drive, Dublin; and Leaira Lutrail Smith, 17, of the 600 block of Oakwood Drive, East Dublin, according to an incident report filed by Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Shawn Isley.

Both suspects were each charged with two counts of theft by shoplifting in connection with the theft of items from the local businesses, records show.

After being arrested, Lovett and Smith were taken to the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center where they were jailed.

The first shoplifting incident happened at the Kroger, located at 2809 N. Columbia St., Isley said in his report. It happened shortly after 3:30 p.m.

The store manager told the deputy that two women had left the store with a grocery cart full of groceries without paying for them.

Isley said the store manager provided him with a description of the suspects, including the type of car they were seen getting into and leaving from the parking lot. The suspects last were seen leaving the Kroger in a red 2020 Toyota Corolla. The store manager also provided authorities with the license plate of the car involved in the crime.

The deputy said the store manager also told him he had video surveillance of the suspects.

Isley said a 911 dispatcher notified area law enforcement agencies with a description of the car and issued a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for it.

While searching for the suspects and car, Deputy Lt. Lee Williamson suggested that deputies look for the car in the parking lot of Walmart, located at 2592 N. Columbia St., according to the incident report.

Within a short period of time, Deputy Sgt. Lee Kitchens spotted the car in the parking lot. The car displayed the same license plate as was given to authorities by the store manager at Kroger.

At the time, the car was occupied by a third woman.

“While waiting on the other (two) occupants to return to the vehicle, Walmart Loss Prevention personnel called dispatch and warned them they had two subjects in the office that had been caught shoplifting,” Isley said.

The deputy said further investigation revealed they were the same two suspects being sought in connection with the shoplifting of grocery items from Kroger.

Deputies later placed both suspects in custody.

The suspects were later read their Miranda rights, and agreed to talk with deputies.

“Both acknowledged they understood their rights and both said they were willing to talk,” Isley said. “Sgt. Kitchens questioned both suspects and both confessed to stealing items from Kroger and Walmart.”

The car was later searched and turned up various freezer and many other items.

The items stolen from Kroger were later given to Kroger personnel in the Walmart parking lot, Isley said.

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