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Arrest made minutes after alleged meat shoplifter says — ‘They can’t catch me’

By Seth Burkett · 340-2355

Within minutes of an alleged meat theft, during which the shoplifter boasted to a grocery store clerk that the police wouldn’t catch him, officers found the man hiding in a doghouse, Decatur police said Tuesday.

Store employees told police the suspect walked into Kroger at 1101 Beltline Road S.E., asked “where the female products were located,” then went directly to the meat section and placed several packages of meat into a hand-held shopping basket, said Lt. Chris Mathews, a police spokesman.

As the man walked out with the groceries, he told a clerk he was going to get money to pay.

The clerk told him he needed to pay before leaving the store with the groceries, but he kept right on walking, Mathews said.

That’s when the clerk snapped a picture of the suspect with his digital camera.

“The guy said, basically, that he didn’t care if the clerk took his picture because he couldn’t be caught. He told the clerk, ‘They,’ meaning the police, ‘can’t catch me,’ ” Mathews said.

The man left the store in a blue Ford Aerostar van. About 10 minutes later, at 1:50 a.m., police were on his tail.

“While one officer was taking the victim’s report, another officer saw the suspect’s vehicle and stopped it,” Mathews said.

Officer Bobby Willis had turned around on the van, but before he could catch up to the vehicle, the suspect pulled to the curb in the 600 block of Sixth Avenue Southwest, jumped out and ran, Mathews said.

Officers had searched the area for several minutes when Officer Joe Renshaw saw the man coming out of a large doghouse in a backyard in the 600 block of Fifth Avenue Southwest, Mathews said.

Police arrested the man, Cedric Crittendon, 33, of Decatur on a charge of public intoxication. They found the stolen meat and shopping basket inside the van, Mathews said. It will be up to Kroger to press misdemeanor theft charges against Crittendon, Mathews said.

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