Tampa couple accused in multiple Pennsylvania Walmart thefts
A Tampa couple went on a 24-hour theft spree that culminated in their arrest Friday, April 5, at Walmart in Newberry Township, police said.
Tiesha Reneice Wimbush, 28, and James Louis West, 25, are charged with organized retail theft and conspiracy to commit that offense. After investigating, police said that the pair used similar methods at five other Walmarts throughout the state over a 24-hour period.
One would distract a cashier while the other would hit the "cash" button on the register, making it appear as though the items were purchased through a credit card, according to Newberry Township police.
The total amount stolen exceeded $12,000, according to charging documents.
Thefts: Police were called to the store at 50 Newberry Parkway about 7:15 p.m. Friday.
A security guard spotted the pair and said they matched descriptions of people who had stolen from Walmarts in the state, court documents state.
When police went to speak with the two, West threw two Mastercard gift cards under a van, according to police.
Police were shown surveillance footage from other Walmarts and saw the couple had stolen from the other stores on Thursday, court documents allege.
Just before 2 p.m. Thursday, Wimbush distracted a cashier while West manipulated a keyboard at the register, making it appear as if the items were paid for, according to police.
That alleged incident happened at the Norristown, Montgomery County, Walmart.
About 15 minutes later they went to a Walmart in Hatfield, Montgomery County, and returned about $700 worth of items, all of which were reported stolen from the Norristown store, according to court documents.
The two stole from Walmarts in East Greenville and Harleysville, Montgomery County, and Lebanon, Lebanon County, using the same method, according to police, who said the couple left with $2,000 in Visa gift cards from all three.
In a Whitehall, Lehigh County, Walmart, the two stole merchandise, including iPads, using the same method, before returning them for a full cash refund the next day, which totaled more than $2,000, charging documents state.
Detective Sgt. Braxton Ditty wrote in charging documents that the couple's method of theft is a common one at Walmart stores.
Police spoke to Wimbush, who told them she and West arrived in Pennsylvania on Thursday, court documents state.
The two have several theft-related charges in their criminal history, according to police.
West and Wimbush remain free after posting $75,000 and $25,000 bail, respectively. Publicly listed numbers for them could not be found, and they do not have attorneys listed yet.
The two have preliminary hearings scheduled for May 22 at District Judge Scott Gross' office.
No charges have been filed for the two in Lebanon, Lehigh or Montgomery counties as of Tuesday, April 9.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.