Local News

Operation Santa Claus More About Catching Greedy Than Helping Needy

Posted December 25, 2002

— Operation Santa Claus kicked off Tuesday, but it is not what you may think.

Instead of bringing gifts to kids, police busted adults accused of stealing toys.

The police sting caught a number of alleged thieves operating out of the Wal-Mart Super Center in Roxboro. Police made 13 arrests, resulting in 55 charges.

"Obviously, they didn't think anybody was watching," said Lt. Wayne Wade of the Roxboro Police Department.

According to police, seven of the 13 people arrested worked at the store, some of them cashiers passing the goods without scanning them. They are all accused of stealing at least 170 Playstation2 systems, worth about $200 a pop, Gameboys and other store merchandise.

Police said the tally so far is about $34,000 worth of goods and counting.

Police got a tip when the merchandise showed up on the street.

"All of a sudden, here comes a guy with 10 Playstations," Wade said. "We knew they had to come from somewhere. As a matter of fact, we knew they had come from Wal-Mart, because we had a couple of informants tell us that they did."

Police used the store's surveilance tape and cash register receipts to unmask the suspects.

Some of the suspects had posted bond by late Tuesday night, while others remained behind bars.

Wal-Mart is not discussing the specifics of the case, but a company spokesman said the store will be working closely with Roxboro police, providing more surveillance tape and other evidence. Wade said Operation Santa Clause will stretch beyond Christmas and into the new year.

Wade said that once police see the rest of the surveillance tape, there may be more arrests and charges.


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