Shoplifting ring busted

(WMC-TV) - Investigators say Wenrick Howard is a part of a shoplifting ring targeting stores like Walmart and Kroger. He was arrested at the Walmart on Winchester while wearing a monitoring device.

"They released him with the ankle bracelet then he was caught again shoplifting," said Howard's sister, Demetria Montgomery.

He was with Tangela James and Lloyd Schaffers. They had been spotted a week ago shoplifting at the same Walmart.

Investigators say the theft ring would into a Walmart or Kroger, then fill up a cart mostly with food and push the cart out as if they had paid for it.

"I think he got caught shoplifting with over 900 or 1-thousand dollars worth of merchandise," said Montgomery.

"They steal things out of Walmart and sell it to the neighborhood stores," she added.

Tangela James told investigators she usually committed the thefts with Stanley Lewis someone she said was her sister's boyfriend. Action News 5 went to Lewis' address and found out he was murdered three years ago and he is James father not boyfriend.

"I don't know how she came up with that," said Fannie Lewis, Stanley's mother. "He's been dead ever since 09."

Tangela James and Wenerick Howard told investigators they shoplift almost every day.

"It's literally what they do to make a living," said Sgt. Clay Aitken of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office Alert Squad

Aitken and his team monitor and investigate retail thefts and he said he is familiar with this particular theft ring.

"It's a kind of underground type of crime, Aitken said. "You don't realize its affecting you. It's bleeding your pocketbook."

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office Alert Squad says shoplifting is a billion dollar crime nationally.

The three suspects in the Walmart scheme all have lengthy records, mainly for shoplifting.

It is not clear how Wenrick Howard could move so freely when he was supposed to be under house arrest.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.