(As originally published with additional photos, Wed, January 24th 2024)
OCOEE, Fla. (TND) — The man who stole a cash register from a Walmart is back behind bars, authorities say.
Last month, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in Florida posted a picture of the brazen thief in a red long-sleeve t-shirt, holding the register, just before he ran out of the store.
The crook reportedly shoved an employee out of the way, but witnesses saw him in the parking lot escaping in a gray Hyundai SUV, which detectives determined was a rental.
Then, through facial recognition, they were able to identify “the likely suspect” as John Michael Wakefield,
“a convicted felon who had been released from prison in 2021 after serving approximately 10 years for armed robbery.”
From there, detectives got a warrant for unarmed burglary of an occupied structure and grand theft, but still needed to make the arrest.
Major Case Unit detectives tracked Wakefield to North Carolina, and then back to Florida.
After that, an analyst “found a photo on Wakefield’s social media profile where he’s seen wearing the same clothing as he was wearing when the Walmart theft was committed.”
Finally, he was determined to be in the Orlando area and was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol at a turnpike service plaza without incident.
And, in his vehicle, authorities said they found the shirt and chain he wore at the Walmart, plus “methamphetamines, a ski mask, and a realistic-looking airsoft pellet gun.”
“This dirtbag made the mistake of coming to Flagler County to commit his crime, not knowing we have extensive technology, and an amazing RTCC [Real Time Crime Center] and investigative team,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “He didn’t learn from his previous time behind bars and hopefully the courts will send him back to prison.”
Wakefield, 43, has actually been in jail in Orange County, where his arrest took place, on drug charges since Jan. 5, but a hold has been placed for Flagler.
The sheriff said his “extensive criminal history” includes narcotics with trafficking, narcotics possession, grand theft, and robbery convictions.