Alleged shoplifter is arrested on felony drug and theft charges
A Jessieville man who allegedly shoplifted over $1,300 worth of merchandise from Walmart was arrested Sunday morning on felony charges after drugs were also reportedly found in his possession following a traffic stop.
Dusty Joe Smith, 43, who lists a Little Blakely Creek Road address, was taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m. and charged with felony counts of theft of property over $1,000 and possession of a controlled substance, meth, each punishable by up to six years in prison, and a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license.
Smith, who was also cited for making an improper turn, was being held on a $5,000 bond and was set to appear Monday in Garland County District Court. According to court records, Smith had previously pleaded guilty on Nov. 8, 2011, to a felony count of second-degree forgery and was sentenced to three years’ supervised probation.
According to the probable cause affidavit, shortly before 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Garland County sheriff’s Deputy Richard Garrett was dispatched to a report of a disorderly person at Walmart, 3604 Highway 7 north, near Hot Springs Village.
A Walmart employee said that a white male was being disorderly with employees after he allegedly exited the store with about $1,300 worth of stolen merchandise. She then stated the man was leaving in a white SUV headed north on Highway 7 toward the Village’s west gate. She also noted he “almost hit two people” while leaving the scene.
Garrett located a vehicle matching the description that was “driving erratically” and got behind it. As they got close to the west gate of the Village, the vehicle made an abrupt left turn with no signal into the parking lot of McDonald’s, 4447 Highway 7 north.
The deputy activated his lights and made a traffic stop on the vehicle in the lot and made contact with the driver, identified as Smith, and told him why he was stopping him. Smith allegedly “started to act erratic” and kept reaching toward the back seat until Garrett finally had him exit the vehicle.
Smith reportedly made a spontaneous statement, “I didn’t steal anything from Walmart,” but Garrett noticed a Walmart sales tag on the shirt and jacket Smith was wearing so he called for backup.
A computer check showed Smith’s license was suspended, so he took him into custody at that point for theft and driving on a suspended license and searched him.
The deputy allegedly found a small baggie in Smith’s pants pocket that contained 0.9 grams of what later tested positive for meth. There was also a bottle with six lorazepam pills and 15 alprazolam pills.
It was determined the shirt Smith was wearing and a fishing lure were the property of Walmart. The decision was made to secure Smith’s vehicle and have it towed to the sheriff’s office to get a search warrant for other items reportedly in plain view inside suspected to have been used in another crime earlier in the day.
Sgt. Jon Lane reviewed security footage at Walmart which allegedly showed Smith concealing merchandise and then passing by the registers trying to flee when he was confronted by employees. The manager ripped the bags Smith was carrying so some of the stolen merchandise fell to the ground on the sidewalk and in the parking lot.
Smith then ran to his vehicle, opened the back hatch and fled driving backward out of the lot almost striking a pedestrian and another vehicle in the process. The total value of the items taken was reportedly $1,322.65.