4 arrested in Wal-Mart theft

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Wal-Mart cashier, along with three others, have been jailed for allegedly running a register scam that bilked Wal-Mart out of more than $2,500 in merchandise.

Deidre Phelps, 28, was employed as a cashier at Wal-Mart, but is now facing a felony theft charge for allegedly not charging for items as they came through her register line, said Andalusia Police Department Detective Alice Donaldson.

“The incidents, which occurred between July 1 and Aug. 23 of this year, involved Ms. Phelps and an ex-Wal-Mart employee, Nicholas Lovelace, and a friend, Kenneth Townsend,” she said. “Ms. Phelps allowed more than $2,500 worth of merchandise, which apparently looked like it was being used to do some home remodeling, to come across her register without charging for it.”

Donaldson said the items ranged from a faucet to line caulk and other repair items.

“By not charging for it, that amounts to theft,” Donaldson said. “And because of the amount, she is now charged with a felony.”

Townsend, 42, and Lovelace, 22, both of Andalusia, each face one count of second-degree theft of property and were booked into the county jail under a $10,000 bond. Phelps was held on a $20,000 bond.

Donaldson said a fourth man, James Ward of Andalusia, was arrested on Oct. 3 and charged with misdemeanor theft in conjunction with the case.

“At that time, this was an ongoing investigation, but we were able to identify Mr. Ward,” she said. “All these instances were caught on tape. If you are caught, you will be charged.”