A Columbia man was detained on Wednesday after he allegedly shoplifted more than $1,400 in merchandise from the Walmart on Whiskey Road, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Melvin Deneil Burton, 36, of West Avenue, was charged with shoplifting and placed in the Aiken County detention center.
According to a report, Burton was being watched in the store because of the large number of electronics he was pushing around in a cart.
Burton then pushed the cart out the door without paying and into the parking lot, with a couple of cashiers following, according to the report.
Officers outside the store approached Burton as he placed the items in a white van in the parking lot, according to the report. Burton then ran into some woods near the store, leaving the cart and electronics.
Burton was later found on Powderhouse Road near Vanderbilt Drive and detained.
“The subject first stated he was with a guy named ‘Craig’ who took the items and then asked him to help him take them outside,” the report stated. Officers then told Burton he’d been caught on tape shoplifting the items.
“The subject then stated, ‘If they have me on tape, then I did it,’” the report stated.
After Burton fled the scene, officers combed the woods outside the store looking for him. The owner of the vehicle had been inside shopping with another woman, and said Burton came to the store with them, according to the report. She only knew Burton by his first name.
The woman said they were looking for baby items and had no idea Burton was stealing, according to the report. Through text messages between Burton and the owner of the van, officers were able to determine Burton’s location.
Burton reportedly told the woman he was in a wooded area near Powderhouse Road “and that he would text her when he found a business so he could be picked up,” according to the report. Officers went to the area and found Burton.
All of the merchandise was returned to the store.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.