Three shoplifters arrested under influence of meth

by Wes Mayer

Two men and a woman were arrested after they were caught shoplifting, according to Coweta authorities.

Coweta County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Kohl’s department store in Newnan Pavilion on Bullsboro Drive around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday to a call about a suspicious person, said Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the sheriff’s office. At the store, Deputy Josh Evans found and began talking to a man later identified as Ricky Lamar Howard, 28. During their conversation, a necklace slipped out from inside Howard’s pants, Yarbrough said.

Howard was taken into custody, Yarbrough said, and he gave authorities the names of his two cohorts, Karl Michael Lopez, 30, and Ashley Marie Balok, 26. Deputies went out to the parking lot, where they found the three suspects’ vehicle with its door open. Searching the vehicle, Sgt. Jeff Bugg saw a glass pipe lying in the front and found approximately one gram of methamphetamine inside.

Deputy Matt Williams and Bugg then went inside the nearby Ross store where they found Lopez and Balok, Yarbrough said. Because he had a warrant out for a violation of probation, Lopez attempted to fight the deputies, but Williams took him to the ground, Yarbrough said. Both were taken into custody.

Deputies discovered the three were under the influence of methamphetamine and were shoplifting items from multiple stores around the Newnan Pavilion all day, including Academy Sports, Petsmart, Kohl’s and Ross, Yarbrough said. One would go in and shoplift the items, and another would return them for cash — cash suspected to go toward buying more methamphetamine, he said.

All three were charged with theft by shoplifting, and Lopez was charged with obstruction of officers. Because the vehicle turned out to be Lopez’s, he was additionally charged for the possession of methamphetamine.

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