’Tis the season for shoplifting Print
Feature
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 21:04

Parents accused of taking daughter on shoplifting spree, abandoning her when cops arrived, charged in one of several retail thefts from Grafton retailers

    The parents of an 11-year-old girl accused of bringing her with them on a Thanksgiving night shoplifting spree, then abandoning her when police officers arrived, are among several people charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court whose cases suggest the busiest shopping season of the year is also shoplifting season in communities like Grafton that are home to large retail stores along I-43.
    “It does consume a significant portion of our resources,” Grafton Police Chief Charles Wenten said, referring to retail theft.
    In the Thanksgiving night case, Shaubay D. Harvey and Gail A. McCurry, both 37 of Milwaukee, were each charged last week with felony counts of retail theft and contributing to the delinquency of a child, as well as a misdemeanor count of obstructing officers.
    According to the criminal complaint, Grafton police were called to the Target store in the village’s eastside commercial district off Port Washington Road at 11:38 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, by Target loss-prevention officials who said a group of people they recognized from a similar incident on the day after Thanksgiving — or Black Friday — last year had loaded shopping carts with merchandise and left the store without paying for it.
  TARGET LG  Officers arrived to find several of the suspects in the Target parking lot pushing carts loaded with about $1,400 worth of merchandise, including several Xbox One consoles, the complaint states.
    Officers attempted to stop the suspects, but several of them ran away. Among those who complied with the officers’ order and were taken to the police station was the 11-year-old girl.
    At the station, an officer called the girl’s mother, McCurry, who said she was working third shift and was not able to pick up her daughter.
    But police compared McCurry’s driver’s license and probation photos to images recorded by Target surveillance cameras that confirmed McCurry was one of the people involved in the retail theft, according to the complaint.
    Officers also monitored calls made by suspects from the police station, including one made by a juvenile to McCurry. During the conversation, the juvenile and McCurry talked about a vehicle that contained stolen merchandise and was still in the Target parking lot, and McCurry made it clear that she wanted one of the stolen Xbox units, the complaint states.
    Although the 11-year-old girl was not initially forthcoming with police, she later told an officer that Harvey was her father and they were with a group she described as “daddy’s people” who drove to the Target store in multiple cars, according to the complaint.
    Harvey’s driver’s license photo “significantly resembled” the description of a suspect who ran from the Target parking lot and  store surveillance footage of the suspects, the complaint states.
    Also charged in connection with the incident was 18-year-old Donnell B. Finch, who faces one felony count of retail theft and two misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer.
    Finch fled from the Target store when officers arrived, but later showed up at the police station to pick up the suspects who had not fled. Officers immediately recognized him as one of the men involved in the retail theft and arrested him.
    Finch identified himself as Tyrese Lowe, and another suspect said Lowe was the driver of the getaway car.
    But days later, Finch’s mother tipped officers off to his true identity when she called the police station and said her son, Donnell Finch, had been arrested in Grafton on Thanksgiving. Officers used a photo of Finch to match him to one of the men involved in the theft, the complaint sates.
    While shoplifting is a problem that keeps his officers busy, Wenten said, the good news is that most large retail stores in Grafton report thefts immediately, often when they are in progress, rather than ignoring them for fear a police presence at the store would be bad for business.
    “We have seen a significant increase in the reporting of thefts, and I view that as a positive,” he said. “We have developed a really good working relationship with the stores in our community, and that’s important when dealing with theft.
    “We catch a lot of the people responsible for thefts, and make no mistake, that word gets out the streets.”
    Also of assistance to police is a village ordinance, which Wenten championed, that requires businesses to have security cameras. Footage from several exterior cameras on stores in the village’s eastside commercial district were key to catching two Milwaukee men charged with an attempted carjacking outside of Ulta Beauty in October, Wenten said.