By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – When is shoplifting not shoplifting but worse? When a person alters a merchandise’s UPC codes it seems.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1819, organized retail theft entails when a person removes merchandise without paying for it with the intent to sell or trade the merchandise for money or other value or when someone “uses an artifice, instrument, container, device or other article to facilitate the removal of merchandise from a retail establishment without paying the purchase price.”
In a recent case regarding the attempted theft of a Rumba Robot Vacuum from Walmart with a value of $479, the methodology of attempting to take the vacuum without paying for it changed the crime from a misdemeanor to a Class-4 felony.
Officers are currently on the lookout for Jared Wayne Decker, 35, of Safford, regarding the organized retail theft. Decker was already issued a summons March 13, regarding a separate shoplifting incident that has yet to be resolved.
According to a Safford Police report, Decker entered the Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. on April 28 and placed a UPC barcode sticker for a Hallmark greeting card over the UPC barcode sticker for the Rumba. Surveillance footage at the store then allegedly shows Decker scanning the Rumba and paying $1.18 for the nearly $500 vacuum.
Upon Decker’s attempt to leave the store, however, the anti-theft detectors initiated and an employee asked to see his receipt for the vacuum. Decker allegedly told the employee he had thrown the receipt away, but when the trash can was searched he changed the location of where he tossed the receipt, according to the employee’s account to the officer. Decker then allegedly advised the employee to just keep the vacuum and ran out of the store and drove off in a gray Pontiac Grand Am.
Decker has an extensive record of police contacts and was positively identified as the suspect in the store’s surveillance footage by his appearance and tattoos that were previously photographed during his stay in jail. The employee was shown a photograph of Decker and positively identified him as the person with the vacuum as well.