16 January 2014

Walmart Arson, iPad Theft Caught on Tape

Original Story: WoodTv.com

NILES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A man made off with thousands of dollars in Apple products after setting a fire at a Walmart in southwest Michigan -- and it may not have been his first attempt. A Berrien County Car Accident Lawyer is watching the story closely.

"This is certainly a brazen attack," Det. Lt. Greg Sanders of the Berrien County Sheriff's Department said.

The man was captured on surveillance cameras from the moment his car pulled into the parking lot of the Walmart on S. 11th St. in Niles Township before 5 a.m. Sunday.
His face hidden by a mask, he entered the store and went to an apparel department. There, he set a fire.

"What he does is pile up baby clothes and then use some type of liquid to start the fire," Sanders said.

Then he headed toward the electronics department. On the way, he stopped and pulled out a duffel bag he had hidden under a dark-colored sweatshirt or coat, the surveillance video shows.

He then went behind the electronics counter, went directly to the display case holding the Apple products, and smashed his way into it with some sort of tool.

He then loaded more than a dozen boxes of what appear to be iPads -- worth thousands of dollars -- into his duffel and left the store.

A Walmart employee can be seen chasing him through the parking lot before he gets back in his car and drives away.

There was no license plate on his car to help authorities track him.

But they think they have his face on camera.

The day before the successful theft, detectives say it appears the same man tried and failed to steal the iPads.

Surveillance video shows an unmasked man enter the Walmart just after midnight Saturday and go to the electronics section. He circled briefly and then went behind the counter to the same case from which the Apple products were stolen Sunday.

But before the man could take anything, an employee arrived and apparently scared him off.

Authorities say they are worried about what the thief may be willing to do next if he had no problem setting a fire.

"To go this far has got us very concerned," Det. Lt. Sanders said. "Somebody could've been seriously injured."

The store was evacuated and the suppression system put out the fire. Fog from the suppression system can be seen on the surveillance video.

The Walmart is expected to be closed for damage assessment and cleanup until Tuesday.

The thief is described as a white male with a thin build. He was wearing brown pants and a dark-colored shirt. This vehicle was a newer model, dark-colored, four-door sedan.

Sanders had a succinct message for the thief:

"We're coming."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Berrien County Sheriff's Department at 269.983.7141 ext. 6242 or Crime Stoppers at 800.342.STOP.

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