Columbus Police Release Video of Stolen Gun Sale
Updated: Tuesday, April 30 2013, 08:31 PM EDT
COLUMBUS (Lisa Rantala/Ken Hines) -- Police hope a video of a parking lot gun sale will help lead them to a man suspected of purchasing the stolen firearm from a shoplifting ring.
The transaction occurred in the parking lot of Walgreens at the corner of Broad St. and McNaughten Road on April 19. The purchase was recorded as part of a police surveillance operation targeting suspected shoplifting ringleader James Strait.
Strait has been shoplifting at dozens of stores for a year-and-a-half, according to investigators, stealing shirts, jackets, and long underwear by hiding the items under his clothing.
Police said Strait recruited up to 20 people, including his girlfriend, Hannah Beeley, to return the stolen items for store credit. Strait was reported to police in early April by employees at Cabela's and Dick's Sporting Goods.
"They found he had made a lot of refunds and he purchased guns," Columbus Sgt. Richard Curry said of Strait, who is believed to have bought nearly 20 firearms at stores in Michigan, Missouri, and West Virginia using store credit.
"There are stolen guns out there that we don't know where they are,” Sgt. Curry said. “Who did they go to? And, are they going to be used by criminals?"
Officers arrested Strait and Beeley on Friday and searched his home and car, where three guns were recovered, according to investigators.
Anyone who recognizes the buyer in the surveillance video is encouraged to contact Sgt. Curry at 614-645-4889.