Our network

CRIMINAL FAIL | Shoplifter tries to escape on powered wheelchair | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

CRIMINAL FAIL | Shoplifter tries to escape on powered wheelchair

DUNWOOODY, Ga. -- A shoplifter tried to evade police on a motorized wheelchair outside of Walmart. The not-so-high-speed chase ended because the man didn't notice police officers were already parked right outside the store.

Officer Joe Tomalka has been on the Dunwoody Police force since it was formed in 2009. He's made more than a few shoplifting arrests. This one will stick in his memory as unique. "This is the first one of these I've seen," he chuckled when telling 11Alive's Julie Wolfe about the arrest.

Police say 49-year-old Michael Waller was captured on surveillance video inside the Walmart store on Ashford Dunwoody Road opening packages. He had already collected a knife, DVDs, a CD player, and a new hat. Apparently, it all gave him a headache, because he also opened a package of Tylenol and took seven or eight of those.

Officer Tomalka was outside in the parking lot doing paperwork when he got the call to respond. It's a common practice for police officers in the area to park there when finishing up paper work. Most of the shoplifting calls for their area come from the Walmart, Target, or nearby mall. Their visible presence acts as a deterrent and puts them in perfect location to respond.

Police say Waller exited the Walmart, put the motorized wheelchair into high gear, and tried to leave the area. He didn't get far.

"It was a fast walk," Tomalka responded when asked how he caught up to Waller.

When he approached the motorized wheelchair, Tomalka asked if the suspect was disabled. He's not. He was asked why he was using the motorized wheelchair meant for disabled Walmart shoppers. He responded, "Because."

His answers about the stolen items were equally unimpressive. He was handcuffed and booked into the DeKalb County Jail.

Another Dunwoody officer snapped a photo of the arrest and posted it on the Dunwoody Police Facebook page. It had hundreds of likes, shares, and comments. In the photo, you can see him wearing the stolen hat.