Shoplifting Leads To Embezzlement Discovery

LaGrange Police have filed felony theft charges against a Meriwether County man after a shoplifting incident led them to discover a scheme where he was embezzling money out of his parent’s checking account.

Saturday evening about 5:15 p.m., officers with the LaGrange Police Department responded to the Walmart on New Franklin Road in reference to Shoplifting.

Police arrived and spoke to the store’s Loss Prevention Officer, who stated a male, later identified as John Carl Knowles, had stolen items while going through self-checkout.

The Loss Prevention Officer advised she attempted to watch Knowles while he was shopping, but she kept getting spotted, so she called for another lookout.

After Knowles left the store, the Loss Prevention Officer pulled the receipt to see if he paid for all the items he took and discovered he didn’t scan several items. Employees advised Knowles didn’t scan or pay for a Stanley 181 piece mechanic set, valued at $75, a Bushnell Pro 350 lumens flashlight, valued at $29.96, Gillette Fusion Power razor blades, valued at $18.48, some cold medication, valued at $7.47, and a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, valued at $3.98.

Police later reviewed security video that Knowles acted as he was scanning the stolen items while it was on another screen.

Officers later ran a criminal history check on Knowles and discovered he had two prior convictions for Shoplifting, so a misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting warrant was issued for his arrest.

While police were investigating the incident, the employees pointed out something that Knowles was seen on video doing that seemed odd. The Loss Prevention Officer advised that Knowles would come in and pay for merchandise with a check, but then immediately walk over to the returns department and return some of the items that he just purchased. Employees advised this has happened several times throughout the week.

On January 2, Knowles used a check to purchase items in the amount of $378.46 and then returned an Air Gun and received cash back in the amount of $149.77.

Two days later Knowles used a check to purchase items in the amount of $458.69 and then returned another item and receiving a refund of $295.32.

The next day Knowles used a check to purchase items in the amount of $384.23 and immediately returned items for $354.66.

Finally, Saturday Knowles used a check to purchase items in the amount of $419.84 and returned items in for $225.83 shortly afterwards.

The Loss Prevention Officer advised the checks were entered electronically, voided, and then returned to Knowles.

Officers later learned from police records that Knowles was investigated for a forgery in 2014 where the victim was his father.

On Sunday, LaGrange Police along with Meriwether County Sheriff’s Department Deputies responded to the home of Knowle’s father in Greenville, GA.

Officers spoke with Knowles’ mother and explained that they were investigating her son buying items, only to turn and returning them. The mother explained that she gave Knowles permission to use the check to buy some items that he needed and confirmed the account number on the checks were hers.

Police tried to explain the extent to what had taken place, but she was initially in denial. She stated that Knowles got the wrong jack and needed to take it back, which is why he had been at Walmart today.

Officer then spoke to Knowles’s father, who was bedridden and showed him the paperwork where he had used four checks to purchase and return several hundred dollars worth of items. After showing him this, the father realized that Knowles had taken money from them once again and advised he wished to press charges.

The mother later showed police the checkbook and Francis opened the checkbook and officers noticed a carbon copy for a check number written out to Walmart in the amount of $44. This was the same number for a check used at Walmart where Knowles bought $419.84 worth of items.

Officers asked the mother about this check and she stated that she gave it to Knowles. She advised he told her he couldn’t use it unless it was signed and left blank. She stated he claimed he ripped the check up. She then asked Knowles fiancé if she seen him rip up the check. The fiancé later advised she had the check, which had been written out for $44. The check also appeared to have been put through the electronic check machine at Walmart.

Police then showed the mother the check and receipt where Knowles spent $419.84 and she appeared to be dumbfounded. She advised that the she left the other checks blank too because Knowles told her they wouldn’t take them if she didn’t.

The mother later advised that she recently placed $8,000 in the checking account and it had been drained down to about $600 because of her son.

Once they both understood the magnitude of what had transpired, both Knowles’ mother and father advised they wanted him charged for the incidents.

As a result of the incidents, Knowles, age 38, was arrested and transported to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office where he was charged with Theft by Shoplifting – Less than $500, Felony Theft and a warrant for Probation Violation.

Knowles is currently being held at the Troup County Jail where he was denied bond.

Tommy Murphy Staff Writer