Suspected shoplifter caught after escaping officers hours earlier

Orange County deputies arrest man hours after Walmart theft

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County deputies arrested a shoplifting suspect late Monday night after they say he escaped hours earlier while in handcuffs.

Deputies say they were called around 5 p.m. to the Walmart Supercenter at 11250 East Colonial Drive in Orlando.

Only Local 6 was there when the suspect was found around 9:40 p.m. by a K-9 at a home under construction across the street. Deputies say the man was hiding in a bathtub and was still wearing the handcuffs after he was first arrested hours earlier.

Investigators were still working to confirm the suspect's identity late Monday night. They say they are also still searching for his accomplice who was captured on Walmart surveillance video.

For four and a half hours Monday night, countless officers, the sheriff's office helicopter and three K-9s were on the hunt for the man, while residents in the nearby Rouse Run subdivision were on edge.

"Everything is cut off, our entrance, we have cops by our house, by the corner house, over here. We don't know what's going on," said Rouse Run resident Anna Ramirez.

Only local 6 obtained surveillance video of the suspect walking into the Walmart and putting a 42 inch Vizio TV in his cart.

Deputies say an accomplice seen on the video served as a lookout and gave the shoplifter the all clear to leave.

Investigators say once in the parking lot, a Walmart employee intervened. The accomplice took off while the man with the TV was arrested.

However, as the man was being walked to a patrol car, that's when deputies say he pulled away and broke free. They say he ran with his hands still cuffed behind his back across Highway 50 toward the Rouse Run subdivision.

"It's scary," said Christine Johnson, who also lives in the neighborhood. "I'm gonna go inside and lock my doors."

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