Red light violation led to man's arrest for stealing from Walmart; Facebook also helped

Red light violation led to man’s arrest for stealing from Walmart; Facebook also helped

(As originally published with additional photos, Mon, April 1st 2024 at 5:57 PM)

WILDWOOD, Fla. (TND) — A Florida man is charged with stealing from Walmart, but he wasn’t arrested until almost a month later, when he apparently made a right turn on red without coming to a complete stop. Then, his alleged accomplice in the theft was arrested a few days after that.

The Walmart incident happened Jan. 25 and was investigated Feb. 2.

According to the arrest report, Austin Allen Ford and codefendant Kebram D’Tavio Followell “collected several items and placed them on their persons or within the shopping cart, then went to the self-checkout register where they only scanned select items.

“While scanning items, several items’ bar codes were covered, using items of lesser value where only the item of lesser value was scanned for purchase.”

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Walmart claimed the items that had not been scanned were worth $81.28.

Later in the week, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office used photos of the suspects and their vehicle in an “attempt to identify” post on its social media platforms.

That allegedly worked.

“Several ‘tips’ came in,” the sheriff’s office reported, “identifying the defendant, by several known associates of the defendant.

“One of the known associates is a former employer who was also able to identify the codefendant.”

From there, authorities looked through law enforcement databases and found photos of Ford’s vehicle.

“It was the same vehicle used during this crime,” they said.

Authorities also got pictures of Ford, “which confirmed the identification of the defendant.”

Then, almost two weeks passed without an arrest.

Red light violation led to man's arrest for stealing from Walmart; Facebook also helped
Top, from left: Kebram D’Tavio Followell and Austin Allen Ford leaving Walmart after their alleged theft on Jan. 25, 2024. Below, booking photos after their arrests, the following month. (Sumter Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Finally, a Wildwood police officer conducted that traffic stop on Ford’s GMC pickup truck and detained him after learning about the investigation.

Then, Ford was turned over to the sheriff’s office.

Ford had been in trouble for possession of marijuana over 20 grams in 2017.

This time, the 25-year-old was charged with second-degree petit theft-first offense.

He was released from jail after five hours in lieu of $150 bond.

Followell, 30, was arrested three days later on the same charge by a police officer investigating a call about a suspicious person. He spent almost 30 hours in jail until his release in lieu of $100 bond.

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