An alert Walmart security employee who recognized a fragrance thief from previous visits helped lead to the arrest of a 37-year-old Milwaukee man who made the store a repeat target.
The latest incident included a high-speed chase with police, and on Jan. 18, Javier Mercado-Guzman was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with felony retail theft and attempting to flee or elude a traffic officer.
According to the criminal complaint, on Dec. 29, 2012, a Walmart employee saw Mercado-Guzman in the store, recognized him from multiple previous thefts and contacted the Greenfield Police Department.
Mercado-Guzman left the store without any items, but was the suspect in a Walmart theft earlier that month.
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A Greenfield officer spotted Mercado-Guzman leaving the store’s parking lot in an older Honda Accord. With the officer following him, Mercado-Guzman ran a red light while traveling north on Highway 100. The officer put on his emergency lights and siren and continued to follow Mercado-Guzman at speeds between 40-65 mph, but Mercado-Guzman made no effort to pull over.
According to the complaint, Mercado-Guzman then made a right turn on Beloit Road, without stopping for the red light, and traveled east on Beloit at speeds between 65-75 mph.
Mercado-Guzman ran several more red lights, nearly struck a handful of other vehicles and even drove against traffic on Oklahoma Avenue. He later reached speeds of 80 mph when he circled back to Beloit Road in West Allis.
On Dec. 18, surveillance video showed Mercado-Guzman walking through the store with a tub or bin in his shopping cart. He was seen going toward the fragrance section and put approximately 27 items into the bin.
He was also seen putting approximately six car stereos into his shopping cart and left the building through the lawn and garden section door without paying for approximately $2,055 in merchandise.
A Walmart employee told police the incident in December was not isolated and that Mercado-Guzman had been previously arrested for shoplifting at both the Greenfield and Franklin Walmarts.
If convicted, Mercado-Guzman faces a combined 7 years of imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.