Teens arrested for shoplifting

ALBANY -- Police arrested two teens Saturday after authorities said they led officers and deputies on a chase through the streets of Northwest Albany, said Chief Deputy Lewis Harris Jr. of the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

According to Harris, a witness spotted the 15- and 16-year-old suspects taking items from shelves at Wal-Mart Saturday afternoon. The witness also told officers she thought one of the teens may have been concealing a gun.

Harris said police received a call earlier in the day about two suspicious-looking males that were seen lurking around the parking lot of Wal-Mart, but when police arrived on the scene to investigate, officers did not find anyone.

"We received another call at 2:39 p.m. about two suspicious black males wearing all black that were shoplifting at Wal-Mart," said Harris.

When police arrived at Wal-Mart around 3 p.m., he said, both of the suspects spotted the police cruisers as they were exiting the store and they proceeded to flee.

"One of the guys ran right in front of the deputy's car," said Harris. "Fortunately, it was a two-man unit, because an officer was training, and he jumped out of the vehicle and started chasing the suspect."

After the teens starting making their way through Northwest Albany, the Albany Police Department joined the manhunt.

The 15-year-old suspect was apprehended by APD officers behind Kmart on the 2500 block of Dawson Road. The 16-year-old was apprehended around 3 p.m. in the Wendy's parking lot on the corner of Dawson Road and Stewart Avenue.

Harris said the teens dropped personal and stolen items while trying to evade capture. Police were able to recover several CO2 cartridges and a digital camera with a USB card that were missing from the department store.

Police also found an unopened pack of SpongeBob SquarePants playing cards and an MP3 player that authorities believed to be personal items of the suspects.

"A gun was never located," said Harris. "A witness said she saw one, but we were never able to find it."

He said investigators believe that the two teens were stealing CO2 cartridges to use in a pellet handgun or other type of weapon.

"During the chase, there is no telling where the gun could've been dropped," said Harris.

The two teens were each charged with one count of theft by shoplifting and one count of obstruction of an officer.

Harris said cooperation with APD and private citizens was essential in apprehending both suspects.

"They (APD) helped us out a lot," he said. "We also had the citizens chasing the suspects down."