Officers were called to the Raceway gas station after reports came in that a man was attempting to sell stolen laptops to the customers in the parking lot.
According to reports, officers from the Covington Police Department made contact with a firefighter who informed him that he was approached by a black male who allegedly told him that he had two laptops in boxes that he wanted to sell for $400. The officer called backup to the area and then supplied the firefighter with his department-issued cell phone number. He asked the man to go back to the gas station, call his number and allow him to listen to the conversation between him and the man reportedly selling stolen laptops, should that man approach him once more.
The officer got in a location where he could see the happenings at the gas station and when the firefighter called him, he was able to have a visual on what was going on between the two men at the time. When the firefighter parked his vehicle, a man matching the description of the one reportedly trying to sell laptops ran toward the vehicle, and as he was approaching the car, the officer could reportedly hear him tell the firefighter to "open the trunk of his vehicle."
The firefighter did not open his trunk, however; instead he reportedly told the man he wanted to buy both of the laptops he had previously offered him. The man allegedly said he did not have both and would have to go back and get the other one and would be right back. He took the "laptop" with him and headed away from the gas station into the Bojangles’ parking lot next door. As the officer watched, the man allegedly took the "laptop" box, tossed it into the back seat of a vehicle and then got into the rear of the vehicle and left the parking lot, at which time the officer conducted a traffic stop.
The man the officer had seen at the gas station was sitting in the rear, and the officer instructed the female driver to turn the vehicle off and she reportedly complied. All three occupants of the vehicle were separated and questioned.
The man in the backseat was identified as Miles Grinage, and he was questioned about the incident at the gas station. He reportedly told officers that he had purchased a computer from "a guy" for $100 and he was trying to sell it for a profit. When the officer asked him about a second computer, he reportedly changed his story around and said that he was just "trying to make a little profit," and when asked how he thought he could sell a new laptop for $200 that was not stolen, he reportedly just stopped and stared at the officer.
Officers asked Grinage to show them the computer he had for sale, which was allegedly in plain view in the backseat, the box sticking out of a brown plastic shopping bag. When the officer received the bag, he could tell the laptop wasn’t new just from the packaging on the box.
According to reports, the box that held the "laptop" was wrapped in cellophane and covered in what appeared to be pages printed from a home printer. According to the officer’s report, it was obvious that the box did not contain a new laptop, and it explained why Grinage wanted the firefighter to open his trunk for him to put the box inside.
Also, once the officer picked the box up, he noted that it was "solid and unlike any other laptop or computer box that I have ever handled."
Once opened it was clear why the box felt different — it was reportedly full of newspapers and phone books, not a laptop. The box was a FedEx mailing box, turned inside out.
As the officer was placing Grinage in the rear of his patrol vehicle, Grinage reportedly said — loudly — that he was the one who bought the laptop. Officers indicate that it appeared he was trying to inform the other people being questioned what information he wanted them to give to authorities.
The driver had two identification cards on her, both issued to her but one that was expired. She reportedly said that the three had come to Covington to "do some shopping" and while she shopped the two men went to Chick-fil-A to get something to eat. She then said they continued to the gas station to get some fuel and allegedly told officers from there she headed back home. She reportedly said that she had never been in the Bojangles’ parking lot, but when confronted with the fact that the officer had seen her parked there, she reportedly had nothing more to say.
The other passenger allegedly said they had stopped at the gas station to get something to drink and that only Grinage had gotten out of the vehicle and walked to the store. He reportedly said they were only at the gas station for about five minutes before leaving and he also denied being in the Bojangles’ parking lot. When he was told that officers had seen the trio leave the parking lot, he reportedly changed his story and said that Grinage had gone into the fast food establishment to get a drink.
Although the officer suspected both of the others were clearly lying, the officer only had enough evidence to show that Grinage was involved in the laptop scam. The driver and passenger were released. A search of Grinage reportedly netting a FedEx office card in one of his pockets and $200 in $20 bills. He was transported to the Newton County Detention Center where he was charged with theft by deception.