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Posted: October 9, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Baby formula bandits busted

Three people were arrested after an attempt to shoplift several thousand dollars worth of baby formula from a local grocery store Friday afternoon.

According to reports a call came in from Kroger on U.S. Highway 278 that employees of the store were detaining one man who had reportedly attempted to leave the store with unpaid merchandise and another man had already left the business.

When officers arrived they were able to locate the man who had fled the business, identified as Chaz Heard in a sports store next door and, after questioning Kroger employees, learned that several people had left the store with items they had not paid for. According to reports, a shopper approached a store employee and told her that two people were about to leave the store with unpaid merchandise. One man identified as Sammuel Anderson agreed to come back into the store and brought with him a shopping cart reportedly filled with baby formula.

An employee went into the parking lot and allegedly observed the second shoplifter loading more baby formula into a white vehicle with tags from South Carolina. When officers walked out in the parking lot of the store the white vehicle was still there. According to reports an officer noticed several cans of baby formula in the back floorboard of the vehicle and the doors to the car were locked.

As the officer was headed back to the store, he reportedly noticed a woman with a infant walk to the car and unlock it. The officer approached and asked her if the vehicle was hers and she reportedly told him it was. When asked if the baby formula in the back was hers, she allegedly said "no." At this point the officer removed the formula from the vehicle and returned it to Kroger. On the side of the cans was the number 214 — the store number for Kroger. There were a total of 68 cans in the floorboard of the car, $975.33 worth of formula.

While waiting on the formula to be totaled, store employees informed the officers that another shopping cart had been located inside the store. It too was filled with baby formula and baby body wash and was involved with the shoplifters as well. The total amount of the merchandise (33 cans of formula and 23 bottles of baby wash) inside of it was $630.86.

An investigator spoke with the woman who had been stopped in the parking lot, and she reportedly told them she had nothing to do with the shoplifting. The manager of the store banned her from the store and an officer began escorting her off the property.

After reviewing the surveillance video however the woman, identified as Tanjaneka Russell was brought back to the store since the video reportedly showed her, along with Heard and Anderson, place several cans of formula in the shopping cart.

After searching the Russell’s vehicle, officers reportedly located a black pistol in the glove box. When dispatch ran the serial number of the pistol, it came back as stolen out of Conyers.

The total amount stolen from Kroger was $1,606.19. Heard, Russell and Anderson were all arrested and transported to the Newton County Detention Center for felony theft by shoplifting.

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