It was a brazen chain of events early Monday morning at the Lehighton Wal-Mart store.

Two cars full of unscrupulous individuals pulled into the Wal-mart parking lot. The individuals from the vehicles went into the store and grabbed TVs and computers.

They then fled the store with the items. One of the individuals reportedly had a gun. He fired shots. Fortunately, it was a paintball gun.

The man with the gun yelled, "Don't follow me. Whatever you do, don't follow me." At that point, the store employees were obviously frightened, and didn't know it wasn't another type of gun.

Police were quick to respond to the incident. There was great mutual aid from neighboring police departments. Radio communications sent descriptions of the vehicles to police departments outside of Carbon County.

The cooperation worked. Police officers in Walnutport spotted a vehicle which looked like one in the Wal-Mart heist. The Walnutport officers received mutual aid from other departments in Lehigh and Northampton County and the vehicle was stopped in Laury's Station.

As a result, three individuals were arrested and charged in the Wal-Mart incident. Of course, they're innocent until proven guilty.

Two laptops identified as stolen from Wal-Mart were found in the vehicle.

Police were informed that the individuals who were apprehended were part of an organized retail theft ring operating in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

They might even have pulled a night-time theft event at the Hometown Wal-Mart.

All three are from Philadelphia. All are being held in Carbon County Prison in lieu of $100,000 straight bail each.

The second vehicle and its occupants weren't located, but police are working on identifying the rest of the gang.

The individual with the paint gun wasn't arrested, yet.

It's not the first time organized packs of hoodlums entered Wal-Mart stores in the middle of the night and made off with merchandise. And it's not the first time local police have arrested the losers.

A few months ago, a trio from the Poconos was arrested for a similar stunt; entering Wal-Mart in Mahoning, stealing electronic devices, and fleeing. They were caught and arrested.

We're glad the police throughout the region work so closely together. We're also happy to see arrests occur in these incidents.

Congratulations to the local police for their hustle, professionalism, determination, and cooperative efforts in apprehending the alleged thieves from Monday's Wal-Mart heist.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com