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$1,000 meat thefts lead police to beef up search for suspect

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 3:00 p.m.
State police released a video image of a suspect in the theft of $1,000 worth of meat from Giant Eagle in Latrobe.

State police seek help identifying a man who twice last month loaded a shopping cart with steaks and beef roasts and walked out of a Giant Eagle store in Unity Township without paying.

A few days after stealing about $1,000 worth of meat on April 1 and 6, the thief — a white man in his early 20s — entered the store a third time and filled a cart with about $500 worth of meat, Trooper Stephen Limani said. A loss prevention officer stopped the man outside the store.

“The third attempt when he was stopped, he was asked to provide a receipt,” Limani said. “But he put up a fuss, claimed he had the receipt somewhere but couldn't locate it and then walked out without the cart saying he was going to shop somewhere else.”

Limani said the man appeared to wear the same clothes during each theft: a camouflage ball cap with sunglasses resting on top, a zip-up dark hoodie and blue jeans.

“The third attempt, he fled in an orange-colored pickup truck that someone else was (driving). The first two times, he parked right outside the front door after driving up in a maroon-colored Ford F-150 and parking in a fire lane,” Limani said.

The man entered the store, selected “high-end meats” and wheeled the cart out of the store, Limani said. He suspects the man may live in the Derry, Unity or Latrobe areas because of the number of thefts at the same location.

Several other high-priced food thefts have been reported in recent months.

Police last month charged Shawn M. Prince, 20, of Connellsville with retail theft after he allegedly loaded eight hams valued at nearly $450 into a cart at the Shop 'n Save on Route 119 in Youngwood on March 27 and left without paying. He was identified through surveillance tapes released by state police.

Police also released surveillance tapes to help identify a woman who was stealing shrimp and bacon from the same store.

“I have a hard time believing it's for personal consumption,” Limani said. “Whether they may sell it to a restaurant or a friend. ... We may find it could be thefts to obtain money to buy drugs.”

Anyone with information on the Unity thefts is asked to call state police at 724-832-3288.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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