A witness identified as Arturo said he was the loss prevention officer for the Target store on Auto Park Way in Escondido, on September 16. Arturo said it was before noon that day that he noticed suspicious behavior, which he had learned to recognize during five years work in security.
Arturo said he saw one person select a large quantity of movies, on Blu-ray and 4K DVDs, and that man put the discs into a lidded, black laundry hamper; the hamper was in a shopping cart along with some new towels and bath mats. That person then wheeled the cart to a second person in the men’s department, the two men exchanged carts, the first man took away an empty cart. The second man pushed the loaded cart to the front of the store, where a third man entered and within seconds took control of the bountiful cart and wheeled it outside.
Escondido police officer Joseph Putulowski said he got a radio call with a description of suspects inside a black Jeep get-away car. Officer Putulowski was patrolling nearby and made a U-turn to get behind a suspect vehicle and confirm the license plates.
Michael Anthony Crews Sr., 58, was driving that rented Jeep, according to officer Putulowski’s testimony. Crews was identified by one witness as the second man in the loaded-cart-relay scheme.
The stolen goods were recovered from the back of the Jeep. The loot value totaled more than $3,000, according to a Target employee.
Defense attorney Michael Fleming asserted that there was no evidence that defendant Crews ever saw or touched the most valuable items, all the movie discs. And, “He may not have known what the other man was up to.”