A brazen incident at the Mahoning Township Wal-Mart store early Monday morning resulted in paintball shots being fired and electronic items stolen. The episode was followed by a rapid response and joint effort by numerous local police departments which netted arrests.
Those arrests may have resulted in a suspected organized retail theft ring operating in several states being at least partially broken.
The three individuals who were arrested are all from Philadelphia. Audie Mertz, acting chief of police in Mahoning Township, said more arrests are pending.
Two vehicles were believed used in yesterday's Wal-Mart incident. The three individuals nabbed were in one of the vehicles. The second vehicle and the individuals who were in it are still being sought.
Charged in yesterday's incident at the Mahoning Wal-Mart were:
Ÿ Henry Clinton, 30, of Philadelphia.
Ÿ Sabree Clinton, 30, of Philadelphia.
Ÿ Nyra Foster, 28, of Philadelphia.
Each was charged with felony counts of retail theft taking merchandise, and conspiracy.
Each was arraigned before District Judge Joseph D. Homanko Sr. of Weatherly and committed to the Carbon County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Hearings were tentatively scheduled for Dec. 5 before District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe.
Police are also attempting to determine if the individuals were involved in an August electronics heist at Wal-Mart in Hometown.
Mertz said the Mahoning incident happened at about 4:41 a.m. yesterday when two vehicles pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot.
He said five males exited the vehicle and entered the store. They loaded high-end electronics into shopping carts, including a TV, four desktop computers, and two laptops. They had a value of $3,488.
According to the police officer, two of the males fled through a front door with two of the laptops. The vehicles drove around to a side alarmed emergency exit. They used the emergency exit and loaded the stolen items into their vehicles, Mertz said.
The acting chief of police said one of the males shouted, "Don't follow me. Whatever you do don't follow me."
Employees then heard several shots. The individuals fled before police arrived.
Mertz said the initial report to police was that a gun had been fired. Upon the investigation, it was determined that the actors used a paintball gun which they fired into the store. Several paintballs hit inside the store, while others hit the outside wall.
One of the vehicles, a 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis, had a New Jersey registration plate.
Walnutport police spotted this vehicle on Route 145. With the assistance of numerous other law enforcement agencies, the vehicle was stopped in Laurys Station and the three suspects were taken into custody.
A search of their vehicle yielded two laptops, identified as those stolen at Walmart.
Mertz said police are working to identify the occupants of the other vehicle which includes the individual who fired the paintball gun.
He said additional information received indicates the individuals are part of an organized retail theft ring operating in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.